New Home Office figures show an increase in fire response times

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has voiced its concerns over the increase in response times.

The two Home Office reports published yesterday (Janaury 25th) focus on non-fire incidents attended by fire and rescue services and response times to fires (April 2016 and March 2017). The statistics were sourced from the Home Office’s online Incident Recording System (IRS) which are completed by all fire and rescue services for all incidents attended.

The reports show an increase of 33 seconds to primary fires since 2011/12 (more serious fires which harm people or property) and that response times have gradually increased over a 20-year period.

In addition, the number of fatalities and non-fatal casualties in non-fire incidents has risen by 64 per cent in the last year. However this can largely be attributed to a rise in the number of medical incidents attended by fire and rescue services during this period, when a number of Emergency Medical Response trials (EMR) took place with ambulance trusts to undertake health care related work, such as co-responding to incidents including cardiac arrest. This trial concluded in September 2017.

The NFCC is concerned if fire and rescue services continue to see budgets reduced year-on-year, the increase in response times could continue - and potentially worsen - in the future.

NFCC Chair Roy Wilsher commented on the reports: “It is disappointing to see response times are increasing and it is imperative this trend does not continue. The public needs to have every confidence in their fire and rescue service and we must ensure we have the resources so we can meet the needs of the communities we serve.

 “Despite fire and rescue services making a number of efficiencies in recent years and implementing reform across the sector, I am concerned we are reaching a tipping point; further funding reductions are unsustainable if we are to continue to provide services people have come to expect, including additional work life saving fire and rescue services are now carrying out.

 “Fire and rescue services should be resourced to risk and not demand if we are to ensure we have a resilient fire and rescue service, responding quickly and efficiently to incidents, while being able to deliver their prevention, protection and response strategies. Myself and other NFCC colleagues will continue to work with the Home Office to raise these concerns and urge government departments to take action so we see these figures reduce in the future.”

 Headline findings:

There were 5,088 fatalities in non-fire incidents in 2016/17. This was a 64 per cent increase compared with the previous year (3,109) and more than three times the figure five years ago (1,635 in 2011/12). The last two years have shown large increases, largely due to a rise in medical incidents attended.

  • In 2016/17 there were 29,864 road traffic collisions (RTCs) attended by FRSs. Of these, 17.1 per cent occurred during the ‘night and early morning’ hours (22:00 to 06:00) compared with 22.4 per cent of fatalities in RTCs.
  • In 2016/17 FRSs attended 314 non-fire incidents per 100,000 people. The FRS that attended the most non-fire incidents per 100,000 people was Lincolnshire with 1,191
  • Overall, response times to fires have increased gradually over the past 20 years. However, between 2015/16 and 2016/17, response times to all types of fires either decreased or remained the same, with the exception of ‘other building’ fires which increased by one second.
  • The average response time to dwelling fires involving casualties and/or rescues in England in 2016/17 was 7 minutes 40 seconds. This was an increase of 6 seconds compared with 2015/16 and 39 seconds since 2011/12.


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