FIREFIGHTER posts are down by nearly 11,500 compared with 2010 – with Hampshire suffering a significant decline in the same period.
An increase in firefighter posts of 318 – or 1 per cent – represents a worrying downward trend, according to The Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
In Hampshire there are 220 less posts in the county compared with 2010, while there have also been 18 less in the past year.
The FBU is urgently calling for the government to fund firefighter recruitment and reverse a decade of severe cuts to fire and rescue services.
Overall spending on UK fire and rescue services has fallen by 38 per cent since 2005.
In England, firefighter numbers have been cut by 21 per cent since 2010, despite a 1 per cent increase this year, with recruitment concentrated in London and the North West.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: ‘This shameless government is doing nothing to ease the pressure on overstretched and underpaid firefighters, all while making dubious claims of spending elsewhere. Fire and rescue services are in crisis after years of brutal cuts – and this year’s measly increase in posts is wholly insufficient to plug the gaps.
‘We cannot allow firefighters’ life-saving work to go unrecognised. The Chancellor must fund firefighter recruitment and end the years of real-term pay cuts for firefighters. Our communities need more firefighters – and the government needs to reflect the work they do in their pay cheques.’
He added: ‘If this government is serious about tackling the climate emergency, it needs to invest in our frontline defences – and it is firefighters who are tackling wildfires and rescuing people stranded in flooding. Whaley Bridge will not be the last extreme weather event to stretch fire and rescue resources.’
Nearly 42,000 of the 45,653 people rescued by UK firefighters last year were from non-fire incidents, such as flooding, road traffic collisions, height rescues, lift rescues, and hazardous chemical spillages.
This year is the only net increase in UK firefighter numbers in a decade.
Around 8,000 of the jobs cut since 2010 are whole-time firefighters, while 3,000 retained firefighters have also been cut.