Fire service 'needs transforming'

17 May 2013

More efficient operations could save fire and rescue services in England as much as £200 million a year, a report says.

There has been a 40% drop in call-outs and incidents, while accidental death as a result of house fires have reached an all-time low - but the level of firefighters and the amount of money being spent on them remains the same, according to Sir Ken Knight, the former chief fire and rescue adviser for England.

He concluded that services were continuing to spend in relation to their budget, rather than the risks involved which they must manage. The 46 different fire authorities showed significant variations in operations, in terms of cost-per-head of service provision.

The issue does not appear to be related to whether areas are small, rural, well-off or deprived, the report added. It claimed that if those authorities spending over the average amount found ways to bring their expenditure down to the national average, the money saved could reach £200 million per year.

Sir Ken concluded: "I know firefighters care deeply about public safety and do the best possible job. I've seen their capacity to adapt, even in the most trying of circumstances, but my report highlights that there is much more that can be done by the service leaders to make the service as effective and efficient as possible."

Copyright Press Association 2013

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