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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life