Fire station chief issues warning over region’s firefighter stats

Fire chiefs are delighted with a decline in incidents across Dumfries and Galloway – but warned that these positive stats are “skewed”.

In the past year, the number of fires were down, firefighters were called out to fewer incidents overall, while road traffic callouts and false alarms all decreased too.

However, Lucy Donaldson, Annandale and Eskdale station commander, explained that the marked change in figures in 2020/21 is directly down to the pandemic.

Businesses being closed, fewer cars on the road, and lockdown restrictions on travel and socialising has had a direct impact on fire services.

Station Commander Donaldson, who lives in Moffat and took over her role in April, presented the fire service annual report at the council’s Annandale and Eskdale Area Committee last week.

She said: “A very pleasing report. Obviously, we have to take into account that all the figures are skewed from last year for obvious reasons.

“Figures that are coming out in the last quarter are returning to something of normal.

“Over the last 18 months Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has adapted as well as it could to the pandemic.”

The total number of firefighter callouts in the region last year was 1,625, which is a decrease of eight percent.

There were 444 fires, which is also a drop of eight percent on the previous year.

The number of accidental fires was 69 – down 25 on the previous year.

However, casualty numbers from these accidental fires increased from three in 2019/20 to five last year – one of which was fatal.

The number of deliberate fires, however, only dropped slightly from 155 in 2019/20 to 149 last year.

Special service callouts, which includes incidents such as road traffic accidents and water rescues, dropped considerably from 115 in 2019/20 to 71 last year.

Meanwhile, the number of false alarm callouts dropped from 448 to 359 in the same period, which has been partially attributed to businesses being closed during the pandemic.

Station commander Donaldson also explained that the fire service has had to adapt in various ways due to the pandemic.

The home fire safety initiative has had to cut the number of home visits drastically due to Covid restrictions, while the community safety team was forced to go virtual to get their message out to school pupils and youths over the summer.

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