Hertfordshire’s firefighters taking longer to respond to fires, new data reveals

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue have said they take the new findings "very seriously". Picture: Herts

Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue have said they take the new findings "very seriously". Picture: Herts Fire and Rescue Service - Credit: Archant

Hertfordshire firefighters took more than half a minute longer to reach the most serious fires last year than they did five years ago, new figures show.

Home Office data reveals that the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service took an average of eight minutes and 49 seconds to reach primary fires in 2018/19 - 45 seconds longer than in 2013-14.

Call handling took an average of one minute and 28 seconds, while crew turnout took around one minute and 25 seconds.

Driving to the scene took up most of the service's response time, with the average journey to primary fires taking five minutes and 56 seconds - which is 42 seconds longer than in 2013-14.

Nationally, the average response time to primary fires has increased by 33 seconds since 2013-14.

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The Fire Brigades Union warns that a matter of seconds "could be the difference between life and death," blaming cuts to fire and rescue services for the rising response times across England.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, says cuts to services have had a "staggering" impact on response times over a number of years.

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He said: "In a fire, a matter of seconds could be the difference between life and death, so these figures are incredibly alarming. Services have been cut to the bone, and it's obvious that with fewer firefighters and scarcer resources, firefighters are taking longer to get to fires, putting lives and businesses at risk.

"This is just part of the picture. Many services are not properly crewing fire engines, so there is no guarantee that there will be a safe number of firefighters on board when it arrives.

"The slowing of response times has been gradual, but the impact over a number of years is staggering. The government urgently needs to invest in our services and, crucially, we need national standards to set a required response time."

A Herts Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: "These figures are something we take very seriously. There are a number of factors that determine how quickly we are able to get to an incident, ranging from traffic on the roads, the location and accessibility of the incident, to the weather.

"As part of our integrated risk management plan we are also carrying out a review to ensure resources continue to be best placed to meet the risks within Hertfordshire."

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