North Yorkshire firefighters called out to record number of non-fire incidents last year
Firefighters in North Yorkshire were called to a record number of incidents not involving fires last year, figures reveal.
The Fire Brigades Union said it has seen a surge in widespread flooding nationally, as crews “battle the sharp end of climate change”.
Home Office data shows North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service responded to 2,222 non-fire incidents in 2019-20.
That was a 21% increase on the 1,842 attended in 2018-19, and the highest number since comparable records began a decade earlier.
Meanwhile, firefighters were called to 1,850 fires last year – down 12% on the year before.
Non-fire incidents are classed as anything other than fires and false alarms, including flooding incidents, road traffic collisions, animal assistance as well as suicide attempts, people being stranded, trapped, impaled and dealing with hazardous substances among others.
Across England and Wales, fire crews responded to 172,000 incidents of this kind in 2019-20 – a 6% rise compared to 2018-19, and 12% compared to a decade ago.
Figures show the latest increase has been driven by crews attending more flooding and multi-agency incidents, which involve other emergency services.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “We have seen a significant increase in flooding incidents, likely linked to the mass flooding emergencies across the country over last winter.
“Widespread flooding in the last year and recent wildfires have shown that firefighters are battling the sharp end of climate change.
“Their work should be properly recognised with a statutory duty to respond to floods in England and the proper funding of their service.”
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service was called to 7,533 incidents last year in total, with fires making up just 25% of these.
Nationally, crews responded to 557,299 callouts, a 3% drop compared to the previous year.
An agreement reached in March allowed firefighters to drive ambulances and deliver vital supplies to the elderly and vulnerable as the coronavirus crisis took hold.
Mr Wrack added: “Firefighters have always taken on a range of non-fire work and can be proud of stepping up during the coronavirus pandemic, all while still responding to fires and other emergencies.”