Fire callouts in Hampshire rose to a nine-year high last year, amid a decrease in firefighter numbers over the last five years.

The Fire Brigades Union said it was deeply concerned by the significant rise in fires across England following “massive cuts” to fire and rescue services.

There were 1,219 full-time equivalent firefighters employed by Hampshire as of March 2019.

This was a drop of 6% compared to 2015, when there were 1,298.

At the same time, the number of incidents attended by the service increased by 3,394 compared to 2015 – a 28% increase, bringing the total incidents to 15,594.

The figures reflect the trend across England, where the number of incidents has risen to a five-year high.

There were more than 576,000 incidents across the country in the 12 months to March, an increase of more than 16%.

The number of firefighters meanwhile has fallen by 10% since 2015, from 35,925 to 32,233.

The figures include all incidents attended by firefighters, including false alarms and non-fire related incidents such as road accidents.

Of the 15,594 calls attended by firefighters in Hampshire in 2018-19, 4,170 were non-fire incidents – 27% of the total.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “We are deeply concerned that, after massive cuts to fire safety officers and years of fire safety deregulation, there has been a significant increase in fires in England.

“We have warned of the impact of climate change on fire for the last decade, but the Government has failed to listen. Long, dry summers are making fires more likely, while firefighters are responding to a huge number of floods and other non-fire incidents.”

“Westminster has been utterly complacent about fire safety for years and it is clearly taking its toll. We urgently need to invest in fire and rescue services and to radically boost firefighter recruitment – people’s lives, homes, businesses, and communities are at stake.”

Andover’s MP Kit Malthouse, minister for crime, policing and the fire service, said he was confident fire and rescue services have the resources they need.

He said: “Operational decisions are for each fire and rescue authority to make as part of the integrated risk management planning process, and it is for individual fire and rescue services to make decisions on the number of firefighters they employ.”