FIRE death and injury rates are low in Shropshire, but a service report warns the county’s ageing population could increase the risk.

Shropshire and Wrekin Fire and Rescue Service is aiming to finish 2019-20 with 16 or fewer such incidents and will set an even lower target next year, but the tally has never been higher than five since 2015.

The statistics are contained in a report on the service’s six-year Integrated Risk-Management Plan, due to be discussed by authority members today (Wednesday).

In 2017-18 the target was to keep fire-related deaths and injuries under 18, and only five occurred. The following year the target number was reduced by one and four occurred. The 2019-20 target is 16.

The report by chief fire officer Rod Hammerton and his deputy Andy Johnson, also says deliberate fires have been below target every year of the plan so far, but appear to be concentrated in Wellington and south Telford areas.

The report authors write: “The service target has been met over the last four years and is projected to be achieved over the remaining year of the current service plan.

“However, populations changes may challenge this. In particular, the projected growth in the elderly population increases the risk of fire-related deaths and injuries.

“More people living independently, with multiple health conditions, often in remote rural locations, will present challenges.

“Also, with such small figures reported each year, this measure can be subject to potentially significant variation.

“Officers recognise that setting any ‘target’ figure for this indicator is a possibly contentious matter.

“Reflecting on these sensitivities, officers believe an appropriate ‘target’ for the additional year may be to aim for ‘less than 10 fire deaths and serious injuries’.

“It is felt that including ‘less than’ within the target goes some way towards actually reflecting the service’s preferred ambition that we see none, but recognises that, sadly, accidents do happen.”

Deliberate fires have been below their target number every year the plan has been in place, with the highest margin – 264 – achieved in the first year. The 2019-20 target is 547 or fewer.

“The ignition of rubbish, possibly following fly-tipping, appears to be the greatest contributor to the number of deliberate fires in the county,” Officers Hammerton and Myers write.

“This occurs in both Shrewsbury and Telford, but there does appear to be a significant issue with it in the Wellington and south Telford areas.”

Shropshire and Wrekin Fire and Rescue Authority’s five-year service plan, based on the IRMP, in 2015. That plan was later extended by a year until March 2021.

Members will discuss the report, which summarises the service’s performance so far, on Wednesday, June 26.