Figures show fall in number of blazes across Essex

Fewer fires reported in Essex

Fewer fires reported in Essex - Credit: Archant

THE number of blazes in Essex tackled by the county’s fire service has plummeted, new figures have revealed.

Between February 1, 2012, and January 31 this year Essex County Fire and Rescue Service (ECFRS) dealt with 4,464 fires compared to 5,731 in the same period the previous year – a drop of more than 1,200.

ECFRS said the reduction showed that its hard work on fire prevention was having an impact.

The overall number of incidents the service was called out to – including lift releases, animal rescues and traffic accidents – dropped from 14,762 to 13,654.

Calls to small fires in the open dropped by 75 per cent but calls to flooding were up by 151, both attributed to the increased rainfall the county saw last year. The figures were presented to the Essex Fire Authority in a report compiled by ECFRS deputy chief fire officer Adam Eckley.

The report showed that the service had also seen a drop in hoax calls. In the 12 months leading up to February 2013 the total dropped from 306 to 268.

Hoax calls are drastically down on those the service was dealing with a decade ago – in 2003 there were 1,599.

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Divisional officer Neil Fenwick, in charge of community safety, said: “We are very pleased to see a drop in incidents. We work very hard to make sure that people are as safe as possible and it appears that this work is paying off.

“We will continue to do everything we can to make the people of Essex safer.

“We have also seen a significant drop in the numbers of hoax calls we deal with. Hoax calls are more than a nuisance, they waste valuable resources and could potentially cost lives taking the time for fire engines and crews who could be needed elsewhere.

“We actively monitor hoax calls to the service on a daily basis and have computers working to flag multiple hoax call offenders, these phones are then disconnected. We also work in close partnership with premises across Essex where hoax calls are a problem to develop a strategy to combat this socially unacceptable practice.”

A report published last week by Sir Ken Knight, the country’s former chief fire and rescue adviser, said services in England could save up to £200million a year if they were operated more efficiently.

Sir Ken said there had been a 40 per cent reduction in call-outs and incidents in the last decade and accidental deaths from fires in the home have reached an all-time low – yet expenditure and firefighter numbers had remained broadly the same.

Mr Eckley said ECFRS was already following a number of the strategies set out in Sir Ken’s report.

“We are midway through a major workforce transformation programme designed to completely overhaul the organisation, its people and its processes,” he added