Journalist, Cherry Park

Author Bio ▼

Cherry Park is an experienced freelance journalist and reporter who specializes in features, news, and news analysis, in print and online. She has written extensively in the areas of health and safety, fire safety, employment, HR, recruitment, rewards, pay and benefits, market research, environment, and metallurgy, and she also conducts research.
October 13, 2014

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Average Fire and Rescue Response Times are Creeping Up

Buncefield fire

The Buncefield fire, Hertfordshire Oil Terminal (Photo: Robert Stainforth, under Creative Commons 3.0 Licence)

Average response times for England’s fire and rescue services have crept up during 2013 and 2014.

The September Fire and Rescue monthly bulletin from the Department of Communities and Local Government has revealed that response times to fires in non-dwelling buildings fires over that period was as 8.1 minutes – 18 seconds longer than between 2012 and 2013 and 12 seconds longer than in 2009 to 2010.

Average response time to fires in dwellings, however was  unchanged from 2012 to 2013 at 7.4 minutes.

Over a 10-year period from 2003-2004 to 2013-14, average response times to both dwelling and other building fires rose by one minute and 27 seconds (23%). Response times over these 10 years were 1.3 minutes (22%) longer for dwelling fires, and 1.7 minutes (26%) longer for fires in other buildings.

Between 2003-2004 and 2013-2014, the number of dwelling fires fell by 39%, while there were 53% fewer fires in other buildings.

Fewer casualties

The report did contain some good news, however, for which the fire-safety industry can take some credit. The average severity of fires and numbers of casualties has actually decreased over the past decade, partly thanks to improvements in fire safety and prevention policies.

The report takes pains to stress that response times are far from the only factor affecting numbers of casualties and the amount of damage from fire.

The September bulletin also provides an update on the procurement and implementation of a new incident recording system, which is estimated to go live by the end of January 2015.

It also details the consultation on the review of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988, which proposes changes to the match and cigarette tests, due for implementation in April 2015.

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