South Yorkshire firefighters called to record number of non-fire incidents last year
Firefighters in South 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 South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service responded to 3,441 non-fire incidents in 2019- 20.
That was a four per cent increase on the 3,306 attended in 2018-19, and the highest number since comparable records began a decade earlier.
Meanwhile, firefighters were called to 5,972 fires last year – down 23 per cent 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 six per cent rise compared to 2018-19, and 12 per cent 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.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer at SYFR Tony Carlin, said: “We’re proud of our record in massively reducing fires in South Yorkshire in recent years, by educating the public and young people about safety.
"However, our firefighters also respond to a huge variety of non-fire incidents and we invest heavily in training and equipment for our crews so they are ready to provide local people with the first class 999 service they deserve.”
SYFR was called to 13,858 incidents last year in total, with fires making up just 43 per cent of these. Nationally, crews responded to 557,299 callouts, a three per cent drop compared to the previous year.