As fire casualties fall below Scottish Government target, Herald headlines, evidence-free, ‘cuts and a postcode lottery have led to deaths’


The number of fire casualties to the end of Q4 2016/2017 was 887. This is 8% lower than the Scottish Government Target of reducing such casualties to 966. The number of accidental dwelling fires had increased, in the same year, by more than 10%, to 4922.

However, on the basis of what appear to be merely anecdotal and partisan comments from a trades union secretary, the Herald reported:

‘Denise Christie, Scottish Secretary of the Fire Brigades’ Union, said the controversial creation of a single nationwide service in 2013, coupled with austerity, has led “to the worsening of response times, increased fire losses and increased deaths”. ‘

No actual statistics to support the claims of worsening response times in 2017 were offered. However, the Times claimed to have gained access to figures showing that: ‘between 2011 and 2016, the average response time across Scotland grew by 24 seconds, to seven minutes 48 seconds.’

That represents an increase of 5.4% over 5 years or around 1% per year. With the number of dwelling fires to be tackled increasing 10% in 2016/2017, alone, this might suggest improved performance overall. I appreciate, I have not matched the time periods exactly but the lower number of casualties than predicted in the target set against the large increase in cases to be dealt with, in 2016/2017, does suggest an improving picture contrary to the Herald report.

Finally, in 2016/2017 firefighter staffing has been increased by 100 and Scottish Government funding, against the background of austerity cuts and excessive unresolved VAT demands, has increased by £21.7 million.

With two dodgy anti-SNP reports on the website today, you’d think a date for Indyref2 had been announced.


9 thoughts on “As fire casualties fall below Scottish Government target, Herald headlines, evidence-free, ‘cuts and a postcode lottery have led to deaths’

  1. David Howdle March 4, 2018 / 9:35 am

    And, of course, austerity is imposed by Westminster. Nothing to do with the Scottish government which essentially has to live within its means.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. William Henderson March 4, 2018 / 10:27 am

    “Christie makes the remarks in the forthcoming edition of Scottish Left Review, an influential labour movement publication.”

    A nice, easy wee cut-and-paste job for Whitaker!

    “EXCLUSIVE” – I don’t think so.

    The truth, as usual, only appears in the ending paragraphs after the damage has been done. Disgraceful.

    Liked by 2 people

    • johnrobertson834 March 4, 2018 / 11:53 am

      Thanks for spotting this. As you say tagging on a wee bit of truth at the end does them no damage. Many readers read only the headline or perhaps that and the first paragraph or two and they know that when they construct the order of presentation.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Alasdair Macdonald. March 4, 2018 / 10:48 am

    There is a long ‘tradition’ of publishing assertions – and they are, at best, just assertions – by representatives of public service unions, such as doctors, nurses, ambulance crew, other NHS employees, police, fire and rescue, teachers, etc as being authoritative facts.

    Trade unions are of course seeking to maintain or improve pay and conditions of members. However, by raising too many scares which do not come to pass, they reduce their own credibility. Also, if the FBU were to call a strike or other industrial action, the same Herald and other media would be quick to condemn them with equally lurid stories. In any case, the owners of the Herald and other media are intent on ending public services and privatising them.

    As you have shown by the link to the quarterly report there are plenty of data which can and should be put forward i support of the assertions and, if the journalists were worth their salt, they would use these data to inform their own questioning.

    On the whole these data show that things are moving broadly in the right direction. However, the main point of these data is not just to get an impression of how successful actions are, and certainly not the media and politician use of them as blaming as if that actually improves things. What they are for is as a starter to begin to look at what the underlying causes are and what things might be useful in effecting improvements.

    I think what we must do, as you are doing, is continue to point these things out and hope that we will get better informed reporting and more insightful discussion.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Alasdair Macdonald. March 4, 2018 / 4:50 pm

    Three things struck me from the quarterly report;
    1. The biggest category of ‘incidents’ is ‘false alarms’. This is something which has to do with education, and public reporting to identify culprits.
    2. The proportion of call outs which are related to traffic. Perhaps much of this could be improved by the introduction of a 20mph default speed limit.
    3. The analysis of reasons for staff absences. Firstly it is good that there should be such an analysis, which enables management and unions to look at ways of ameliorating things. Being a public service it is also likely – and right – that staff absence will carry with it some entitlement to full pay. If the fire service were privatised, then such things would, probably in the same Herald, be condemned as examples of red tape. In addition, staff would probably feel compelled to attend work even when unwell and this would probably result in more accidents to personnel and greater staff turnover.

    Liked by 2 people

    • johnrobertson834 March 4, 2018 / 10:11 pm

      Thanks for the link. He was good at the time of the referendum when he described BBC as being in ‘full propaganda mode’.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s