The Parliamentary Select Committee’s Communities and Local Government: Departmental Annual Report 2007 noted that the time taken by Fire and Rescue Services (FRSs) to respond to emergency calls is rising.

Response times to Primary Fires (dwelling fires, Other Buildings fires, larger outdoor fires and road vehicle fires) were examined for the period 1996 to 2006.

It was found that response times to each type of Primary Fire in England increased from 1999, primarily due to increased traffic levels. The increase in response times started about four years before the introduction of Integrated
Risk Management Plans (IRMP) and the increased focus on Community Fire Safety (CFS) work. A qualitative review of changes in operational practices, such as donning Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before entering appliances, indicated that these would not account for the observed increasing trend in response times.

Using response time fatality rate relationships, it was predicted that the increased response times may contribute to about 13 additional fatalities in dwelling and Other Buildings fires each year, possibly 65 additional deaths in Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs) and an £85m increase in Other Buildings fire damage.

However, recorded annual dwelling fire fatalities fell by 142 between 1996 and 2006, and the average size of fires has not increased. This suggests that increased response times to fires have been more than offset by other
factors, particularly improved fire safety. Deaths in Road Traffic Collisions have also fallen in this period. Whilst the number of fires in Other Buildings has fallen, there is no clear trend in the number of Other Buildings fire deaths.

By analysing response times to primary fire and road traffic incidents over a number of years, trends in these response times are presented and discussed. Possible reasons for changes in Fire and Rescue Service response times are also described.


You can view the report here.