How much do governments spend on fire-protection?

In 2020, 262200 persons were employed as firefighters in the 22 EU Member States with available data, representing 0.1 % of total employment in these countries. The vast majority of them were men (97%) and almost half of them were aged 35-49 (47 %). Those aged less than 35 accounted for around one quarter (27 %) as well as those aged 50 years old or over (26 %).

Among the 22 EU Member States with available data, Romania and Estonia recorded the highest shares of firefighters in their workforces (all 0.4 % of total employment).

Spotlight on government expenditure

In 2019, the 27 EU Member States’ government expenditure on ‘fire-protection services’ amounted to EUR 30.9 billion. This expenditure is equivalent to 0.5 % of total government expenditure, which is less than the amount spent on police services (expenditure equivalent to 2.0 % of total expenditure in 2019).

Overall, in the EU, public expenditure on fire-protection services remained stable at around 0.4 – 0.5 % of total expenditure since the beginning of the time series in 2001.

Highest share of expenditure on fire-protection services in Bulgaria and Romania, lowest in Denmark and Malta

In 2019, the ratio of government fire-protection expenditure to total expenditure varied across EU Member States from 0.1 % of total expenditure in Denmark, 0.2 % in Malta, 0.3 % in Austria and Slovenia to 0.7 % in Czechia, 0.8 % in Romania and 0.9 % in Bulgaria.

This news is published on the occasion of the International Firefighters’ Day celebrated every year on 4 May.

For more information:

  • This information on general government expenditure for the function ‘fire-protection services’ (according to the Classification of the Functions of Government – COFOG) is based on national accounts/government finance statistics. For further information, you can visit the government finance statistics database and the methodological file. An interactive infographic is also available on the Eurostat website.
  • The figures on numbers of ‘fire-fighters’ were collected through the 2020 EU Labour Force Survey. Firefighters refer to category ‘ISCO 5411 Firefighters’, as defined under ISCO-08 classification. The article is based on the data from this special data extraction, however 2020 data are not available for Denmark, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Austria and Portugal.