1. ITV Report

Firefighter cuts with West Yorkshire more than any other service in UK

Firefighter numbers are in crisis after years of underfunding is revealed, through new figures released by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

West Yorkshire has lost a bigger portion of its firefighters than any other service in the country, with -35% change in staff numbers from 2010-2019.

Figures show that between 2010 and 2019, 594 positions have been lost from the service due to funding cuts.

The West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service currently employs around 900 firefighters, but in 2010 had around 1,500.

While other forces in the last 12 months have seen a rise in firefighter posts, West Yorkshire is one of the few places in the UK that has once again recorded a decline (-1%), with only a handful of new recruits.

Change in staff numbers from 2010-2019
Positions have been lost from the service due to funding cuts.

Fire Brigade Union general secretary, said:

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 paycheques."

He continued:

"The Whaley Bridge dam collapse saw fire and rescue services stretched to the limit. Firefighters were pulled from every brigade in the region, and from as far as Chichester and London.

"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."

– Matt Wrack, FBU

The FBU is urgently calling for the government to fund firefighter recruitment and reverse a decade of severe cuts to fire and rescue services

Fire engine Credit: West Yorkshire Fire

West Yorkshire is not the only service in our region who have experienced cuts. Out of 51 fire services across the UK, only 10 others suffered the loss of more firefighter posts than South Yorkshire.

Chief Fire Officer James Courtney, of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said:

"We've suffered massive cuts to our funding over the last decade. "Our approach throughout austerity has been to protect frontline services as far as possible - in particular, the immediate 24/7 response from each of our existing full time fire stations.

"Inevitably though, the size of the cuts we've faced has meant we've had to reduce the number of firefighters we employ.

"We call upon government to ensure that fire services, including our own, are placed on a more secure and more sustainable financial footing in the future."