Journalist, Cherry Park

Author Bio ▼

Cherry Park is an experienced freelance journalist and reporter who specializes in features, news, and news analysis, in print and online. She has written extensively in the areas of health and safety, fire safety, employment, HR, recruitment, rewards, pay and benefits, market research, environment, and metallurgy, and she also conducts research.
December 16, 2013


State of Physical Access Trend Report 2024

UK Fire Service: Year in Review

This has been a turbulent year for the fire community. Many changes to the fire service mooted by the government certainly were not taken lying down.

The Knight review

In May, Sir Ken Knight’s government-commissioned “Facing the Future” review of England’s fire and rescue authorities caused a storm amongst the fire community and sparked a series of firefighter strikes. The review argued that, since there are now 40% fewer fire incidents than 10 years ago, and deaths from fire are at an all-time low, the fire service needs to make changes to reflect current needs and increase efficiency, including reducing firefighter numbers.

Proposed London cuts

In August, seven London councils announced they would seek a judicial review of fire service cuts announced by mayor Boris Johnson, the London fire commissioner, and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. The cuts had the stated aim of saving GB pound 28.8 million over two years, closing 10 fire stations, removing 19 fire engines, reducing fire rescue units from 16 to 14, and cutting 552 firefighter jobs.

A hearing took place 26-28 November at the Royal Courts of Justice, with the councils arguing that the plan would have an impact on public safety, and that the consultation process was unlawful. The results are awaited.

FBU industrial action

A series of national strikes by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in England and Wales took place 25 September and 1, 4, and 13 November over a dispute with the government about the raising of the pension age for firefighters from 55 to 60. A limited response service was put in action during the strike periods.

The FBU argued that most firefighters cannot maintain operational fitness levels until 60, so they face losing their jobs and some of their pension at the end of their career in the fire service.

The union later announced further strike action to take place 13 and 14 December.


On 1 April, a single national Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) was formed from eight regional brigades, with the key aims of reducing duplication, creating more equal access to specialist support and national capacity, and creating a formal relationship with all 32 local authorities in Scotland.

In November, HM Fire Service Inspectorate (HMFSI) released its Service Overview Inspection Report, which said the service had made good progress eight months on from reorganisation. The report acknowledged there were some issues around service delivery, management and supervision arrangements, and the delivery of benefits from reform, but it was confident they could be tackled.

Steven Torrie, chief inspector of the SFRS, told the BBC: “In general terms, we are satisfied with how the complex transition process is being dealt with and the lack of disruption being caused, recognising that our inspection has taken place during the transitional phase for the organisation.”

So far, firefighters in Scotland have not taken part in industrial action like their English and Welsh counterparts. But in September, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Board voted to consult on plans to reduce the number of fire control rooms in Scotland from eight to just two. It remains to be seen how the SFRS will react.

2023 Fire Safety eBook – Grab your free copy!

Download the Fire Safety in 2023 eBook, keeping you up to date with the biggest news and prosecution stories from around the industry. Chapters include important updates such as the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 and an overview of the new British Standard for the digital management of fire safety information.

Plus, we explore the growing risks of lithium-ion battery fires and hear from experts in disability evacuation and social housing.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
December 22, 2013 1:32 pm

The biggest thing for me is the budget cuts. While we’re awaiting the results, I do hope that they won’t come to pass. It could impact services greatly, and I just don’t want to think what could or might come from these cuts.

December 30, 2013 10:28 am
Reply to  ITs_Hazel

It does sound like doom and gloom for the service

December 31, 2013 7:58 am
Reply to  holmesd

I think the closing 10 fire stations along with removing of 19 fire engines which would result in reducing fire rescue units from 16 to 14 and also cutting 552 firefighter jobs is not a good idea. Mayor Boris Johnson should have realised the importance of the Fire rescue Department. I do understand that they could save a huge amount of money through the cuts but we should also realize the fact that we are not sure where that amount of money would be used. Public safety is more important than other things. The Government should make other cuts from… Read more »

January 2, 2014 1:19 am
Reply to  holmesd

yes it does, but I would not give up hope… so to say… until thing improve…