Understand who is responsible for fire and rescue in England, what the government’s reforms are and how fire services are changing in line with national trends.
There are 44 fire and rescue services in England. Each service is overseen by a fire and rescue authority who is responsible for fire and rescue in that area.
Government's fire and rescue priorities
The Home Office sets priorities for fire and rescue authorities through the Fire and Rescue National Framework for England. The current priorities are:
- make appropriate provision for fire prevention and protection activities and response to fire and rescue related incidents
- identify and assess the full range of foreseeable fire and rescue related risks their areas face
- collaborate with emergency services and other local and national partners to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the service they provide
- be accountable to communities for the service they provide
- develop and maintain a workforce that is professional, resilient, skilled, flexible and diverse.
View the fire and rescue national framework, which sets out the government’s priorities and requirements for fire and rescue authorities in England.
Trends in fires, other incidents and casualties
In the year ending March 2021, fire and rescue services attended around 518,000 incidents, of which:
- 29% were fires
- 42% were fire false alarms
- 29% were non-fire incidents including road traffic collisions, flooding and animal rescue
The number of incidents fire and rescue services attend has changed over the years – there were 20% fewer incidents in the year ending March 2021 compared with 10 years ago, including a 34% drop in fire incidents. There are several possible reasons for this such as more people owning a working smoke alarm, fewer people smoking, better furniture regulations and the prevention work being done by fire and rescue services.
Generally, fewer people are also being harmed by fire. Fire-related deaths reached the lowest level recorded in the year ending March 2021 at 240. There has also been a fall in the number of casualties that need hospital treatment following a fire. In the year ending March 2021 there were around 2,600 casualties requiring hospital treatment - a 40 per cent decrease compared with ten years ago.
Fire and rescue activities
Each year, fire and rescue services carry out a wide range of fire safety activities. In 2020/21, FRSs and their partners completed 169,554 face to face home fire safety checks (HFSCs) and 90,114 virtual HFSCs. Additionally, they completed around 34,400 fire safety audits in other buildings.
Fire and rescue staff numbers
As the number of incidents have fallen, staff numbers in fire and rescue services have also reduced. As of 31 March 2020, there were around 32,200 firefighters, compared with 41,600 in 2010 – a 23% reduction. The majority of firefighters are white (96%) and male (93%).