Hereford & Worcester

Hereford and Worcester fire response target 'not met'

A fire service has failed to meet its target of reaching at least three quarters of building fires within 10 minutes.

A Freedom of Information request showed that from April 2009 to April 2010 the Hereford and Worcester service got to 70.86% of such fires in that time.

It took longer than 10 minutes to reach an incident on 218 occasions out of 748 fires.

The service said the cause of a drop in standard was "under review".

'Little bit illogical'

It added that "no single factor can be identified" but a "significant amount of effort has been made" throughout the service to address the matter.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the rate "at which they are failing by is disguised in the way they record the times".

The FBU said building fires were serious fires, which do not include, for example, a small fire in a garden shed.

Pete Hope, from the FBU, said: "We're all human - that's why they set it at 75%."

But speaking in relation to the 70.86% figure within 10 minutes, he added: "My belief that it's much lower than that is based on the way that they record the times.

"It is fair to say from the information request that the times that they're recording them from is when they first assign a fire engine to that incident.

"But it is not being recorded from the time at which the member of the public makes the request for an emergency fire appliance."

Chief Fire Officer Mark Yates said: "We receive many calls from out on the M5 and say 'where are you?'

"'The last place I saw was Birmingham'. So the control operator may then have to spend another, I don't know, 30, 45, maybe 60 seconds or more trying to narrow down exactly where that call was.

"So to start measuring the call from when you don't even know where the address is would seem to be a little bit illogical."

'Traffic conditions'

Mr Yates said the figure was just under 75% in the previous year and there could be "many, many reasons" for the decrease up to this April.

He said it could "simply be we've had more fires out in the rural areas".

"It could be traffic conditions. It can be a raft of reasons."

The BBC reported in December 2008 that 12 firefighter jobs had been cut by the service, which employs about 900 staff.

But Mr Yates said that move had had "no effect whatsoever" on these response figures.

Each fire service in the country sets its own targets.

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