Fighting fires and helping out at road collisions remain firefighters’ top priority, despite new figures showing a massive rise in call-outs to help paramedics get into homes.

Figures from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service (DWFRS) show that the number of calls where the service have been called to assist other agencies, such as the ambulance service, has increased five-fold in the last five years.

Last year, crews were sent to 573 such emergencies.

A new agreement with the ambulance service has been behind the massive rise with the service now being been called on by paramedics from the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SWAST) to force entry into buildings where people are injured or unwell.

However, this function was previously performed by the police.

Byron Standen, area manager for Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This has, unsurprisingly, led to an increase in calls for DWFRS.

“However, quick intervention by our staff using our specialist equipment has also enabled early life saving treatment to be given to people in our communities, many of whom are very vulnerable.”

He stressed the fire brigade’s commitment to their more usual role of tackling fires: “While we are well placed to deliver this vital support to our colleagues in South Western Ambulance Service, responding to fires and road traffic collisions remains our priority and our crews will never be diverted from such an emergency to provide forced entry assistance.”

He added: “We continue to recruit new on-call firefighters across our service area to ensure that we maintain the best possible emergency response for local people.”

It comes after figures released last week showed that firefighters logged 100 calls last year where they had to remove objects from people.

The data does not give specific details about incidents, however the most common reasons are normally removing stuck wedding rings or handcuffs.