Fire targets missed – but Suffolk rescue crews get to road accidents on time

Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Only two thirds of fire appliances reached property blazes within 11 minutes of getting an emergency call during the last three months of 2017 according to new figures from Suffolk County Council.

But Suffolk Fire and Rescue was much better at reaching road collisions – 83% of calls reached them within their 13-minute target during the last three months of last year.

The figures are included in a report to Suffolk County Council’s scrutiny committee which shows how the fire service is performing against its targets.

Its target is to attend 80% of property fires within 11 minutes of an emergency call. During the last three months of 2017 it only made 67.4% of property fires within 11 minutes – a fall from the previous quarters that were between 70 and 74%.

However it achieved its target of reaching more than 80% of road collisions within the target of 13 minutes – it reached 83% within that time, a considerable improvement on previous quarters.

The number of 999 emergency calls attended fell significantly compared to previous quarters – down from 1,119 to 869 – and no one was killed in a fire during the quarter which the number of fire-related injuries in the county fell from eight to seven.

The figures for fire deaths and injuries are so small that one or two incidents could potentially change the complexion completely.

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Another area the fire service is still struggling with is getting enough of its on-call fire appliances ready for emergencies. During the last three months of 2017, appliances were only available an average 83% of the time – the target is 90%.

Chief Fire Officer Mark Hardingham said: “Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service sets performance targets which are intended to be challenging – these were last set in 2010/11.

“In recent years, the overall performance of the Service has remained broadly consistent. While we have seen a slight decline in the number of property fires attended within 11 minutes in the last quarter, the numbers of fire-related injuries and fatalities has reduced over the last 10 years and remains low, comparing well with other parts of the country.

“The number of 999 incidents we have attended in Suffolk is currently at a record low level. In part because of the Prevention work of our firefighters and staff alongside other societal changes. Part of the Prevention work is to encourage people to install and regularly maintain a smoke alarm. In the event of a fire breaking out, this can buy you valuable time to get out, stay out and dial 999.

“The availability of On-Call Firefighters, particularly during the daytime, remains a challenge nationally. In Suffolk we have recruited 35 new on-call firefighters in the last 6 months, will welcome a further 12 new firefighters in June and we are always looking to recruit more on-call firefighters.”

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