Croydon South MP Chris Philp has defended the government’s fire safety record after figures revealed that deaths from fire in London rose by 40% in 2016.
The London Fire Brigade’s Fire Facts Briefing states that there were 46 deaths in London caused by fire in 2016, up from 33 in the previous year, a 40% increase. This is despite a decrease in the total numbers of fires across London.
The figures predate the Grenfell Tower disaster in 2017 which claimed the lives of 71 people.
Fire related deaths had been decreasing before 2016.
Mr Philp said: “That the number of fire related deaths rose in London in 2016 is another highlight on the importance of ensuring greater fire safety – one made all the more pertinent by the Grenfell tragedy the following year.
“By 2015 the number of fire related deaths in London had halved compared to 2010, from 62 in 2009/10 to 30 in 2014/15. There was a consistent decline in the number of fire related deaths over that five-year period.
“The average number of deaths per year has been a third lower since 2010. However, the Government is determined to continue its work in ensuring greater fire safety and in lowering the number of preventable deaths from fires.”
Paul Embery, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) executive council member for London, said: “The LFB is always talking about driving down the number of fire deaths, but our concern is that they have started to rise sharply after the deepest cuts in the history of the LFB were imposed by Boris Johnson in 2014.
“We are deeply concerned at the correlation between the rise in deaths following the deepest cuts to the brigade in its history, which were pushed through by the former mayor.
“This disturbing increase has happened at a time when over a thousand frontline firefighter posts have been ditched, 10 fire stations closed, and specialist rescue equipment and fire engines have been removed from service.
The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has issued a general warning about the specific increase in smoking- relating deaths.
Mr Embery added: “In recent years firefighters have had to work with one hand tied behind their backs. Station closures and fewer fire engines mean it is taking longer for fire crews to make it to the incident scene.
“This means they arrive after the fire has become more intense, when the possibility of rescuing victims becomes fainter and the work far more dangerous. Critically, overworked firefighters are now struggling to provide the preventative fire safety work which has historically driven down the number of fatal fires.
“Firefighters welcome Mayor Sadiq Khan’s commitment not to make any further frontline cuts to the brigade. However, we need to look at adopting a strategy that gives the brigade the funding it desperately needs in order to drive down fatal fires.”