Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Fire service response times see biggest slowdown in years 

RESPONSE times by the fire and rescue service to significant fires in England have slowed by the biggest amount since 2015. The new figure is over 2 and a half minutes longer than that for 19951.

New figures show that the average response time for primary fires in England was 8 minutes and 43 seconds for the year ending September 2021, a slowing of six seconds when compared to the previous year.

This is the largest slowdown for this statistic, the response times to primary fires for the emergency service responsible for rescues, since between March 2014 and March 2015.

The Fire Brigades Union has identified the cause of this slowdown in fire response times as being the huge levels of cuts to the service.  

This not a blip. The rise comes against a background of a general long-term slowing of response times. This statistic stood at 8 minutes and 6 seconds for 2009-2010, when the current recording system began, and stood at 6 minutes and 6 seconds minutes for 1994-1995.  

The government knows that the average attendance times of the first fire engine to arrive are increasing. Most primary fires require the crews of 2 fire engines to deal with the incident, yet the government has steadfastly refused to even count or record the times taken for second appliances to arrive, because it’s an even worse picture.

Andy Dark, assistant general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said:

“It is no surprise that response times are increasing – central government cuts are entirely to blame for this reduction in services and our communities deserve better. Decades of cuts have resulted in fewer firefighters, fire engines and fire stations. The government is playing roulette with our lives and our properties. This news sums up the last decade of devastating government cuts: we are being left for longer as our houses burn.

“Until 2004, the mandatory national minimum fire cover standards meant that response times had to be fast. The government of the day scrapped them and every government since has refused to reinstate them.

“Slow response times means more serious fires, more deaths, more injuries, more serious damage to your houses and businesses.”

Since 2016 alone around £140m has been taken out of the fire and rescue service in England, and since 2010 more than 11,000 firefighter posts – around one in five – have been lost across the UK.

The figures were released by the Home Office on 11 February 2022.

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