Firefighters in Cumbria are being called to an increasing number of incidents that do not involve a fire, according to new figures.

And the rise in non-fire related incidents could be due to crews battling “battle the sharp end of climate change” according to The Fire Brigades Union.

Home Office data shows Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service responded to 980 non-fire incidents in 2019-20, a 16 per cent increase on the 845 attended a year earlier.

Meanwhile, firefighters were called to 1,436 fires last year a five per cent drop on the year before.

Non-fire incidents are categorised as any callout other than fires and false alarms, this includes flooding, road traffic collisions animal assistance and suicide attempts.

Non-fire incidents also include people being trapped, impaled or spillages over hazardous substances.

Fire crews across England and Wales responded to 172,000 incidents of this kind in 2019 and 2020, a six per cent rise in comparison to 2018 and 2019.

The figure is a 12 per cent rise compared to the previous decade.

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union 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.

He said: “Their work should be properly recognised with a statutory duty to respond to floods in England and the proper funding of their service.”

Mr Wrack said: “Firefighters have always taken on a range of non-fire work and can be proud of stepping up during the coronavirus pandemic, all while still responding to fires and other emergencies.”

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service was called to 3,906 incidents last year in total, with fires making up just 37 per cent of these.

Nationally, crews responded to 557,299 callouts, a 3 per cent drop compared to the previous year.

An agreement reached in March allowed firefighters to drive ambulances and deliver medical supplies to the elderly and vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.

The agreement was extended in June with such responsibilities likely to continue for firefighters until September at the earliest.

A spokesperson for Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service said that firefighters are expected to tackle a range of emergency situations: “Firefighters act as an integral part of both emergency response and community safety teams by working with and within the community to prevent emergencies occurring, minimise their impact when they do and intervene effectively when required, to the benefit of that community and within a safe working environment.