Fire Brigades Union

Fire Brigades Union

September 07, 2008 06:02 ET

Northern Ireland-Tragedy, Loss, Hope, Help, Rescue and Survival: New Figures Show for the First Time the Key Role of Fire Service Rescues

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Sept. 7, 2008) -

Attn all Northern Ireland news desks

Media embargo: 00.01 8 September 2008

Emergencies of all kinds can bring tragedy and loss. But there is also hope, help, rescue and survival says the Fire Brigades Union as it launches new research.

For the first time new figures show just under 50 (47) people a month are being rescued from fires and vehicle crashes by fire crews across Northern Ireland.

More than 700 (761) people were rescued from fires in Northern Ireland between 2003 and 2007, the most recent five years for which data is available. In 2007 alone 154 people were rescued from fires.

And over 2,000 (2,088) people involved in road traffic collisions were rescued by the fire service between 2003 and 2007, with fire crews rescuing a record 447 people in 2007 alone.

UK-wide, more than 80,000 (83,668) people were rescued from fires and vehicle crashes between 2001 and 2005, and over 190,000 (190,629) since records began in 1990. The overall number of recorded rescues in the UK is at record or near record levels.

These figures, the most recent and reliable available, are based on answers to parliamentary questions, Freedom of Information Act questions and some historical data contained in the official UK fire statistics. While many rescues are recorded, central Government does not make the figures public.

And these official figures are an underestimate. They exclude members of the public evacuated with the assistance of the fire service for their own safety or assisted in other ways. They do not include thousands of other rescues performed by the UK's fire services at other emergencies including the 2007 floods, other water rescues and those rescued from the London Underground on 7/7, nor figures on rescues from a range of other 999 incidents.

The figures on rescues from road traffic collisions represent an absolute minimum, as they assume for England and Wales that one person only is rescued in every road traffic collision involving persons rescued (the official measure) even though these Government figures include incidents involving multiple vehicles with one or more passengers.

Jim Barbour of the Fire Brigades Union Northern Ireland, said:

"Everyone in the fire service knows there is terrible human tragedy behind all these incidents. Lives are lost as well as saved and families, friends and communities are left devastated.

"These figures are not a celebration of the work of the fire service. But they do underline that there is hope, help, rescue and survival as well as tragedy and loss."

"The fire service today is an all-round emergency response and rescue service. The figures illustrate why the public has such high confidence in the fire service.

"They also underscore the importance of the frontline rescue capability in saving lives.

"Northern Ireland fire crews are rescuing just under fifty people a month from a range of potentially lethal 999 emergencies.

"It is now very clear that the 'fire' service is a critical all-round local emergency rescue service. Our emergency rescue role covers fires, but now extends much further into rope rescues, water rescues, building collapse, terrorist attacks, and a range of other emergency incidents.

"Politicians searching for a model of a world-class public service need only look at the UK's fire and rescue service and what we deliver. The answer to that search is under their noses and has a 'Made in the UK' label on it."

This FBU research, the first on UK fire service rescues ever published, contains a breakdown by English region, as well as Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, and by each of England's 45 fire and rescue services.


e-mail copy of the report from

It is also available on our website by pressing on the Rescues button on the front page.

Contact Information

  • Media contact:
    Jim Barbour
    07711 210731
    Jim Quinn
    07788 700675