Concerns raised over Warwickshire fire crews' response time targets

Concerns over the inability of fire crews in Warwickshire to hit their response time targets could see those very targets revised.

A report to the resources and fire and rescue overview and scrutiny meeting at Warwickshire County Council last Wednesday (February 27) showed that just 59 per cent of first appliances attended ‘life risk’ incidents within the agreed ten minutes. The target is 75 per cent.

Concerns raised over Warwickshire fire crews' response time targets.

Concerns raised over Warwickshire fire crews' response time targets.

The latest figures also showed that the ten-minute target was missed in 40 per cent of road traffic collision incidents.

Cllr Sarah Boad (Lib Dem Leamington North) said: “Clearly there is concern with the attendance time of the first appliance not meeting the target.

“It does concern me because attendance times are struggling and the number of incidents we are attending is higher so there are clearly issues.”

Cllr Boad also referred to the recent report into Warwickshire Fire and Rescue by the HMI.

She added: “One of the comments from the Inspectorate was that a brigade should be setting attendance targets that are achievable and I wonder if we are doing that.

“Anyone from outside who is a resident looking at these stats will say they are not being met so either the standards need to change or somebody needs to take account of it.

“If our targets are unrealistic then change them – in a way we are setting ourselves up to fail.”

Her worries were echoed by Cllr Maggie O’Rourke (Lab New Bilton and Overslade) who said: “If the response times are not being met and we do decide that they are unrealistic, I still want to know that we have a robust methodology to ensure that what we are doing is making sure the people of Warwickshire are as safe as they can be as well as the people travelling through on our motorways.”

Chief fire officer Andy Hickmott explained that it was the response times for attending road traffic incidents that often hampered hopes of hitting the targets.

He said: “About five years ago we set a new way of setting and measuring the targets. The fundamental thing is that for the first time ever we included road traffic collisions (RTCs) and we have a very heavy workload in terms of road traffic collisions, not just because of the motorway network but because of the roman road network and country roads.

“If you separate performance to fires from RTCs you see two very different figures. Fires are in predominantly urban areas which is where we have most of our whole-time resources so you see our fastest attendance times. You will see performance figures much like what you would have seen against Home Office standards of 20 years ago.”