FIRES in people homes rose by over 50 per-cent during the lockdown period. In total firefighters here responded to nearly 500 more incidents during the coronavirus pandemic than they did for the same period in 2019.
New figures released by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) show firefighters responded to 6,294 incidents in March, April and May 2020, compared to 5,837 in the same period in 2019.
At one point during lockdown firefighters were responding to a 50 per-cent increase in accidental house fires, while there has also been a 76 per-cent increase in wildfires across the North during March, April and May when compared to 2019. The rise in the total number of incidents firefighters attended comes despite a 60 per-cent drop in the number of road traffic collisions during the same time.
Chief fire and rescue officer, Michael Graham, said “We have dealt with over 6,000 incidents, a considerable rise on 2019. This included major fires at Bombardier and Crumlin Road Court House. We also dealt with a 76 per-cent increase in the number of wildfire incidents we attended, with firefighters attending 1,160 wildfires right across Northern Ireland, working in intense and difficult conditions for long periods of time.
“We’ve seen a difference in the types of incidents we’re attending, with a decrease in road traffic collisions because people are travelling less. However in March 2020 we saw a serious rise in the number of accidental dwelling fires as people spent more time at home in lockdown, with firefighters attending 231 accidental house fires in March, April and May, with one person tragically losing their life,” he continued.
“Every one of these incidents is something we are trying to avoid but I am pleased to say the number of house fires we’re attending has been falling.
“During the pandemic we’ve been working really hard with our partners, including the Department for Communities; to provide fire safety advice to people who need our help the most and I believe the decrease in the number of accidental house fires in the last few weeks reflect the positive outcome of that work.”