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Firefighters' response times per county revealed

Firefighters in Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire are slightly slower to reach the scene of an incident than the national average

Fire crews from Walton and Leatherhead rescued the two dogs

Firefighters in Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire take around eight-and-a-half minutes on average to reach the scene of a fire after receiving a call, figures show.

The statistics, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), are slightly slower than the national average of eight minutes and 24 seconds.

In 2013/14, it took eight minutes and 36 seconds on average for Hampshire firefighters to reach the scene of a fire, a rise on the eight minutes and 12 seconds it took them in 2012/13.

The average response times in Surrey this year were 1.2% quicker than last year, but still not as fast as Hampshire. In 2013/14 it took eight minutes and 36 seconds on average for Surrey firefighters to reach the scene, compared with eight minutes and 42 seconds the previous year. The response time for Berskhire Fire and Rescue Service remained exactly the same over the last two years, at eight minutes and 48 seconds on average.

Royston Smith, chairman of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “We are extremely proud that any Hampshire resident who calls us can expect, on average, to see a fire appliance outside their door in just over eight minutes.

“Different response times are set for different types of fire to ensure the right resources are provided at an incident, and that we are always available to respond to life-threatening emergencies.

“The majority of our incidents are in urban areas. In those areas our stations are staffed by full-time firefighters so response times are quicker. In rural areas, our stations are staffed by retained, or on-call firefighters, so response times are slightly longer. While we remain one of the highest-performing fire and rescue authorities in the country, we are constantly reviewing ways to improve our response times and the service we provide to our communities.”

A spokesman for Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, stressed that fire authorities across the country differed so much in terms of the population they covered and whether the firefighters worked full- or part-time.

She said: “We set our own attendance times based on different types of rescue.

“High-risk rescues include house fires and traffic collisions where people are still in the vehicle. We work very hard to keep them that way.

“We are pleased that the times have stayed the same, but we are working to bring them down.

“If for any reason we miss a target, we look into the reasons why this was the case and we put in plans to prevent it from happening again.”

Tyne and Wear has the fastest average response time of any fire and rescue authority in England, at six minutes on average.

In Northumberland, however, it took 11 minutes and 12 seconds in 2013/14.

The national average response time increased by 12 seconds between 2012/13 and 2013/14.

The DCLG report claimed that, although average response times had increased over recent years, the average severity of fires had been decreasing.

Over the 10 years from 2003/04 to 2013/14, numbers of non-fatal hospital casualties caused by fire fell by 55%, and fatalities caused by fire fell by 39%.

These decreases correspond with improvements in fire safety and prevention which have, on average, greatly outweighed effects of longer response times.

 

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