HEREFORDSHIRE'S firefighters were called to a record number of incidents not involving fires last year, figures reveal.

The Fire Brigades Union said it has seen a surge in widespread flooding nationally, as crews “battle the sharp end of climate change”.

Home Office data shows Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service responded to 2,893 non-fire incidents in 2019-20, a 44 percent increase on the 2,012 attended in 2018-19, and the highest number since comparable records began a decade earlier.

Meanwhile, firefighters were called to 1,726 fires last year – a record low, and down 22 percent on the year before.

Also read:

Non-fire incidents are classed as anything other than fires and false alarms, including flooding incidents, road traffic collisions, animal assistance as well as suicide attempts, people being stranded, trapped, impaled and dealing with hazardous substances among others.

Across England and Wales, fire crews responded to 172,000 incidents of this kind in 2019-20.

Figures show the latest increase has been driven by crews attending more flooding and multi-agency incidents, which involve other emergency services.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “We have seen a significant increase in flooding incidents, likely linked to the mass flooding emergencies across the country over last winter.

“Widespread flooding in the last year and recent wildfires have shown that firefighters are battling the sharp end of climate change.

"Their work should be properly recognised with a statutory duty to respond to floods in England and the proper funding of their service."