Lives saved, fewer fires since end of fire strikes.(News)

To mark the third anniversary of the end of the national fire strike, council leaders have hailed the far reaching changes that have resulted from the modernisation of the Fire Service as part of the agreement, as "a major step in the right direction towards saving lives, protecting property and preventing fires".

The most recent figures on fires and fire fatalities show that:

* Fire deaths have dropped to the lowest levels since 1958;

* A 22 per cent drop in malicious fire alarm call outs--in part due to the introduction of new duty systems and working arrangements that has meant that a greater amount of a firefighters' time is spent helping inform school children of the dangers of prank calls;

* A 20 per cent drop in deliberate fires, the lowest since 1997, also in part due to the new educational role firefighters play in raising awareness of the dangers of arson;

* Introduction of part time working in many fire and rescue services, which has created employment opportunities for people who otherwise may have been excluded, eg, women with caring responsibilities;

* Greater parity of status between retained firefighters and wholetime firefighters which recognises the important contribution that retained firefighters make to community safety particularly in more rural areas. …

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