Fire service overhaul 'could save £200m a year'

Independent report finds that services continue to spend according to budget rather than risks they manage

Fire services in England could save up to £200 million a year by reforming or merging, a report has claimed.

Call-outs and incidents have tumbled by 40 per cent over the past decade due to the service's preventative work, but expenditure and fire-fighter numbers have remained at the same level.

The independent report by Sir Ken Knight, former chief Fire and Rescue adviser for England, said it wasn't "sensible" to have 46 different fire authorities across the country, recommending an "adjustment of numbers, of jobs, of people". He suggested authorities could be merged or even replaced by a national service, as has happened in Scotland.

On average, each authority spends £38 per resident, but some spend as little as £26 while others fork out £50. If all those spending over £38 reduced that figure to the mean, £196m could be shaved from the service's £2.2bn expenditure.

But Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, warned that the review was "just a fig leaf for slashing our fire and rescue service to bits". The union's national officer Dave Green said, "The blunt fact is that lives could be lost. In the last three years 3,500 fire-fighters have disappeared - they're no longer there. The fact is that these cuts have been happening without any due regard for public safety."

Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, warned that response times are now two minutes slower than they were a decade ago, adding: "Across Britain nearly 70 fire stations are at risk of closure and many more are likely to be downgraded."

Sir Ken, who was asked by Fire Minister Brandon Lewis to carry out the review in September, said his report offered the Government a "real opportunity" to "save public money" without compromising the safety of the public or the fire-fighters themselves.

He found that the 46 separate authorities currently have different management structures and "operational quirks" that do not make for a "sensible delivery model". Over the past four years, the authorities' capital reserves have doubled to more than £400m.

The Department for Communities and Local Government ruled out any suggestion that the fire service would be privatised.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory