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Buckinghamshire firefighters campaign against climate change at COP26 event

Firefighters from across Buckinghamshire and the south have attended a protest calling for climate change action. The protest was part of a global day of protest around the COP26 climate change summit involving over 250 “mass mobilisations”.

Steve Wright, the Fire Brigades Union’s executive council member for the Southern Region (which includes Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes), spoke at the event. At the event he said “that Firefighters are on the frontline of climate change, attending floods and wildfires more regularly which will put a further strain on Fire and Rescue Service resources. Central Government need to understand that increased funding is needed in the Fire Service and an increase in Firefighter numbers is desperately needed”.

Firefighters are generally accepted to be on the frontline of the climate crisis. Climate change has been linked to wildfires and flooding, both of which firefighters are primarily responsible for tackling in this country.

However, despite climate change continuing to increase the fire and rescue service has seen significant cuts in recent years. In Buckinghamshire alone there has been a reduction of 43% of firefighters from 2010 to 2021, and for the same timeframe across the country as a whole there has been a decline of 20%. Meanwhile, also since 2010 at least 40 fire stations have shut with many more being downgraded to part-time hours across the country.

Fire Brigades Union executive council member for Southern region Steve Wright said:

“The fire and rescue service needs the staff, resources and equipment to tackle the impact of this climate emergency and continue to keep the public safe – we can’t do this when we are being serially undermined at every corner. There is no logic to job cuts and shutting fire stations and control rooms when these risks are likely to increase in the years ahead.

“As Greta Thunberg says, ‘the house is burning’. To reduce firefighter numbers now is like pouring petrol on the flames.”

Regional Secretary of the Southern Region of the Fire Brigades Union and firefighter who coordinated the FBU attendance at this event, Mark Chapman, said:

“Firefighters and their families from across Buckinghamshire came together in Portsmouth for the global day of action for climate justice on Saturday 6th November. They know that the climate emergency not only affects firefighters and the demands it places upon the fire and rescue service, but the state we leave the entire planet in for future generations.”

The Global Day of Action for Climate Justice, taking place on the middle weekend of the COP26 summit, involved over 250 “mass mobilisations” across the planet, and brought together various groups including trade unions. The COP26 summit was a global summit to agree further climate change action.

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