Berkshire has 25 per cent fewer red fleet vehicles now compared to five years ago, new figures reveal.

Figures obtained following a freedom of information request show that the number of red fleet vehicles dropped from 74 in 2013 to 55 in 2018.

The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) counts red fleet vehicles as front line fire engines, specialist vehicles like the aerial ladder platform and heavy rescue unit, reserve fire engines and vehicles used for training.   

The fire service had 70 red fleet vehicles in 2014, 63 in 2015, 60 in 2016, and 53 in 2017.

However, the service has maintained 21 frontline fire engines since 2014.

RBFRS has seen a decrease in funding in the past three years — its settlement funding has dropped from £12.4 million to £10 million in cash terms.

In real terms, settlement funding has dropped from £12.7 million to £9.7 million, or 24 per cent, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Councillor Paul Gittings, the opposition leader on the fire authority, said: “We support the renewal of the engines. If we felt there was a shortage, that would be a concern. But I have seen nothing to suggest that there’s a shortage of engines.

“But government cuts to the fire service are having a detrimental effect on the level of service of Berkshire and throughout the country. The service is looking to make savings all the time, because of the cuts.

“We need more investment in engines and stations and to run the service itself. The government has not given us enough money. The fire service cuts, in the long term, can be quite damaging.”

A spokesman for RBFRS said: “We continue to invest in our fleet in collaboration with the three Thames Valley fire and rescue services.”

They said the service brought in seven new fire engines last year, and eight more will be in service by spring 2020, adding: “There continues to be no impact to the front line services we deliver to the people of Royal Berkshire.”

Funding cuts are affecting fire services across England. The number of full-time equivalent firefighters has dropped from 38,454 in 2013 to 32,340 in 2018, which is a 15.9 per cent drop, according to the Home Office.