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Fire service tots up how much it saves in lives as well as cash
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WHEN firefighters step in to burning buildings and rescue residents, they are not only saving lives.
For Oxfordshire Fire Service has calculated that it saved more than £23m last year.
The figure, drawn from the 2012-13 annual report is based on the response and treatment costs from serious accidents that have been avoided.
The number of ‘significant’ fires” in Oxfordshire has also dropped from about 1,125 in 2008/2009 to about 875 in 2012/2013.
Simon Furlong, assistant chief fire officer at Oxfordshire Fire Service, said the reduction was due to a combination of educating more people about fire prevention and the changing building regulations which have a greater focus on safety around fires.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Nathan Travis said: “When somone has a fire in the home or business, there is an impact in terms of the damage itself, but there is also the on-going impact.
“For example, it’s the impact on businesses being able to maintain their viability.
”We believe that the work done by the service helped save the economy £23.6m and so exceeded the annual target by £13.6m.”
This service has a 10-year target of £100m as part of an initiative which aims to save an extra 365 lives across the county over ten years.
Nicholas Thake, operations director of Cycle King in Cowley Road, East Oxford, which was destroyed by a huge blaze in May this year, said: “The fire service were fantastic, although they weren’t able to save that much because the fire was so big.
“But they were certainly very good in securing the site and controlling the blaze and keeping us informed.”
The fire cost an estimated £200,000 damage to the bikes alone.
Vincent Schofield, who owns Rectory Stone, nearly lost his marble and granite business during a blaze at Lys Mill Industrial Estate near Watlington in April this year when more than 60 Oxfordshire firefighters braved 20-metre high flames.
He said: “I was very lucky that day because of the fire service.
“They stuck to it and worked really hard to stop the fire spreading. That helped save my business and others around the site.
“We were back up and running after a three-day power cut and now everything is absolutely fine.”
The report estimated that in the last year, 56 people were still alive because of the fire service and this exceeded the service’s target by 20. This calculation was made by looking at the number of people who die because of fires and road traffic accidents and the number of rescues by the service.
There was a reduction in the number of arson fires in the county from last year – a 28 per cent drop for such attacks on larger properties. But emergency response times for the service were below its set targets.
Oxfordshire Fire Service failed to hit its self-set targets in 2012/13.
Firefighters attended 78.18 per cent of emergencies in 11 minutes or under, just below the target of 80 per cent, while 92.73 per cent of emergencies were attended in 14 minutes or under, below the 95 per cent target.