'Better reporting' behind increase in injuries to Essex firefighters

PUBLISHED: 15:17 03 April 2018

Essex fire service responding to an incident in Saffron Walden. Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

Essex fire service responding to an incident in Saffron Walden. Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

Saffron Photo 2017

Firefighters in Essex sustained the highest number of injuries while on duty last year among all fire and rescue authorities outside big cities, according to the latest Home Office statistics.

Essex Fire and Rescue recorded 164 injuries to staff in 2016-17, an increase from 104 the previous year.

Some 63 of these were operational incidents, 37 during training and 19 during routine activities.

For metropolitan areas, London had the highest figure with 225 personnel injured.

A spokesman for the fire service said: “Although we have seen an increase in our reporting of injuries, we can confirm the vast majority of these injuries were very minor.

“Striving to continually improve our safety culture we actively encourage our staff to report all minor injuries and report any hazards that they have identified.

“Following a review of our reporting process which highlights the importance of reporting all injuries - minor and major - we have seen an increase on this year’s figures but this was anticipated and demonstrates that our initiative has been successful.

“We continually monitor all safety events and put new or additional control measures in place to mitigate risks that have been brought to our attention or realised through accident investigations.”

Response times for Essex Fire and Rescue were also the longest on record last year and the service has said rising traffic levels are likely to have played a part.

Latest figures from the Home Office revealed that the county’s fire service took an average of 9.9 minutes to respond to a ‘primary’ fire from April 2016 to March 2017, an increase from 9.7 minutes in the previous year.

‘Primary’ fires are those with any casualty or rescue involved and fires in cars and buildings that are not derelict.

Essex Fire and Rescue’s average response time was also higher than the national average of 8.7 minutes.

Response times have steadily increased from 7.1 minutes since records began in 1994-95, while the number of incidents has gradually declined from 4,463 in 1994-95 to 1,691 last year.

An Essex County Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “We are committed to being there for the people of Essex as quickly as we can. The pattern seen in Essex matches the long-term national trend of increasing response times, with rising traffic levels likely to play a part.”

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