Crashes involving Devon and Somerset fire vehicles rise to an average of one every two days

Firefighters in Devon and Somerset are involved in crashes in fire service vehicles an average of once every two days.

The number has risen by more than a third over a two-year period, with more than 100 separate incidents in the year to date so far.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service say this represents less than one per cent of vehicle mobilisations, and it is working to ensure its drivers' safety.

The news comes as a report on vehicle incidents was brought before the fire authority's human resources management and development committee on November 6.

There were a total of 188 "vehicle incidents" involving fire service personnel in Devon and Somerset in 2018/19 - up from 137 in 2016/17 and 163 in 2017/18.

Between April and October 2019, there have been 108 such incidents - the equivalent of one every other day.

188

vehicle incidents involving fire service personnel in Devon and Somerset in 2018/19

137

involving fire service personnel in Devon and Somerset in 2016/17

If this trend continues, the predicted number of incidents in 2019/20 will rise to 216 - more than 50 per cent higher than the figure for 2016/17.

Mike Pearson, the fire authority's director of governance and digital service, said most of the incidents occurred when fire engines or other vehicles were not attending an emergency call.

He also maintained in his report that the majority of incidents involved "light fleet" - such as cars or vans belonging to the fire services - rather than the "red fleet" fire engines.

If this trend continues, the predicted number of incidents in 2019/20 will rise to 216.

Figures released to Somerset Live indicate fire engines have been involved in a majority of cases in two of the three previous years.

In 2016/17, 81 of the 137 incidents involved either fire appliances or aerial ladder platforms - just under 60 per cent of all incidents.

A similar level was seen in 2017/18 - when ladder platforms or fire engines accounted for 98 out of the 163 incidents - and between April and August 2018.

The fire service was not able to provide a figure for the cost of insurance claims involving its vehicles.

But a spokesman for the service said they had a "dedicated budget with an excess for each claim".

Area manager Joe Hassell said the number of "safety events" involving firefighters or fire personnel was very low, and internal programmes have been put in place to ensure drivers and crew were safe when on call.

The number of safety events we experience when responding to incidents is very low, accounting for less than one per cent of the total number of vehicle mobilisations.

Joe Hassell, Area Manager