London

London Fire Brigade response times increase across capital

London Fire Brigade and engine Image copyright PA
Image caption Ten fire stations have been closed in London since the start of the year

Fire brigade response times have increased in more than half of London's wards, figures have revealed.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) has to respond within six minutes and said its response times were "on target".

But Labour's London Assembly members said 371 of London's 649 wards had seen response times increase between January and August compared with last year.

The average response times went up by 12 seconds while 37 wards saw increases of more than a minute.

Labour Assembly Member Fiona Twycross said: "Fires can take hold in seconds, that's why any increase in response times can be so dangerous.

Top five biggest increases in response times to fires by London Fire Brigade
Borough and ward Response times 2012-13 Response times Jan-Aug 2014 Difference
Newham - Royal Docks 5:08 7:56 2:48
Southwark - East Walworth 4:26 7:02 2:37
Newham - Plaistow South 3:41 5:59 2:18
Newham - Custom House 4:28 6:38 2:11
Southwark - Chaucer 4:01 6:09 2:08

"As a result of Mayor Boris Johnson's decision to close 10 fire stations and with the removal of a further 13 fire engines... we have seen response times rise in over half of the capital's wards."

The biggest increase was in the Royal Docks ward in Newham which saw first response times increase from five minutes and eight seconds to seven minutes and 56 seconds - an increase of two minutes and 48 seconds.

But LFB said the results had come in as they had predicted.

"We are still within our London-wide targets to get a first fire engine to an incident in six minutes and a second in eight minutes, on average," the brigade said.

"In many wards where response [times] have increased, they have done so by less than 15 seconds."

The research found that 214 wards, on average, had to wait more than the expected six minutes.

Earlier in the year fire stations were closed in Belsize, Bow, Clerkenwell, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster and Woolwich to save LFB £28.8m. The changes included the loss of 552 firefighters and 14 fire engines.

London now has 102 fire stations and 155 fire engines.

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