Ten EU member states saw a reduction in the number of firefighters in their respective forces between 2021 and 2022, according to an analysis of Eurostat data carried out by the European Trade Union Confederation.
As Statista's Anna Fleck reports, France saw the biggest drop in its firefighter force of some -5,446 people in the space of a year followed by Romania with -4,250 people and Portugal with -2,907. However, it was Slovakia that recorded the highest percentage of losses, with its number of firefighters down by 30 percent over the same period.
Although the total number of firefighters employed across EU countries dropped by more than 5,000 overall, Spain, Italy and Greece all increased their forces.
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“Cutting the number of firefighters in the midst of a climate crisis is a recipe for disaster”, Esther Lynch, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) General Secretary, said in a statement.
“But it’s clear from these figures that investment is already insufficient and I’m concerned more cuts could be on their way if the EU reintroduces austerity rules next year.”
“It would mean the majority of member states would have to make cuts at the very time the EU are asking them to increase investment in the fight against climate change.”
These staff reductions are taking place as the workload of firefighters and other emergency services has increased with devastating wildfires, which have affected several member states in recent months, including Portugal, Greece and Italy.