Once again Reevel Alderson looked positively uncomfortable as Jackie bird tried to get some vim and vigour into his report of another supposed crisis in public services. This time it is volunteer and retained firefighters whose numbers are falling. Driven by Jackie’s dramatic prompts such as: ‘These people are crucial!’, he gathered his armoury of facts for one more tilt and we heard some statistics which, of course, jar with the official ones, below.
This isn’t the first time, Alderson has looked uncomfortable in cohort with Jackie and presenting more bad news about Scotland. Here he is listening to Jackie tell a blatant lie about knife crime:
Here are the official statistics revealing staff numbers, especially the ‘crucial’ part-time, retained, firefighters, to be fairly constant. English figures for context, later.
‘Staff Headcount On 31st March 2018 Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) had a total headcount of 7,776 staff, which is down 0.7% on the total last year. The 3,546 wholetime operational staff (full-time firefighters) make up the largest staff group at 46% of the workforce. This was a reduction of 2.7% on last year’s headcount for wholetime operational staff. Retained Duty System staff make up the next largest group accounting for 37% of staff with a headcount of 2,863. This is relatively unchanged on last year. The largest proportional change is in the control staff group which increased by 24 (14.5%) in the last year, bringing the total up to 189.’
In England, from 2011 to 2017, the total FTE of firefighters (full-time and retained) decreased from 43,360 to 35,620, 17.8%!
Comparing Scotland with England:
Scotland has 6 409 firefighters while England has 35 620. So, England has 10 times the population but only 5.5 times the number of firefighters. Before the Tory cuts, the ratio would have been 7 times as opposed to 10 times. Bearing in mind Scotland’s larger area per head of population, that might not seem unreasonable.
And, deaths in fires are falling:
Might a journalist be interested in context at all?