September 25th, 2016

Sat navs blamed for fire service 999 response times

Sat navs blamed for fire service 999 response times Sat navs blamed for fire service 999 response times
Updated: 10:53 am, May 07, 2015

CONFUSING information about where fires are happening is partly to blame for longer response times.

That is the claim from head of operations Jon Pryce from Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service who said the current reliance on technology such as sat navs meant some 999 callers did not know their location.

The service’s target is to attend 75 per cent of fires within ten minutes but Mr Pryce said the time began at the start of the call rather than when the fire engine was mobilised, meaning when the call handlers had to spend longer finding out where the blaze was happening it added to the response time.

“Clearly across the two counties it depends on geography and where incidents occur. We are spending longer periods of time trying to get information out of the callers and that counts towards the ten minutes,” he said.

“People are used to using sat navs and people quite often don’t know what road they’re in.”

In the first quarter of this financial year, only 52.6 per cent of building fires were attended within ten minutes. This compares to 58.1 per cent in the same period last year and equals an average of ten minutes and 14 seconds for the first crew to reach the scene.

A total of 71 fires were reached within ten minutes out of 135 attended in 2014 in comparison to 90 out of 155 in 2013.

Out of the 64 fires where the target was missed, 19 were reached in 11 minutes, a further 12 in less than 12 minutes ten seconds and the remaining 33 in more than that.

The increase is also partly being blamed on a new fire control system which was introduced in September 12, with a report which went to the last Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service policy and resources committee meeting saying the improved technology recorded the time of call earlier than under the previous system.

A breakdown of the reasons for each failure to attend within ten minutes showed travel distance to the incident was blamed in 35 instances, the turn in time for retained and day crews in 11, difficulty locating the incident address twice, traffic conditions twice and road obstructions once.

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