Speed of response to life-risk incidents

Believe it or not, there are no national rules or standards defining how long it should take fire and rescue services to arrive following a 999 call to an incident at which life is at risk.

Obviously, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service aims to get there as quickly as possible. We mobilise the nearest available appliances and crews and can be there within three minutes, depending on how far away you are from the fire station. If you live some way from a built-up area it could be nearer 15 minutes.

Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority, the local authority that runs Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service, has approved a 12-month trial of a new standard for our speed of response to all life-risk incidents. The target attendance time is a maximum of 10 minutes, to be achieved on at least 75 per cent of occasions during the year.

Feedback and experience tell us that our communities have no complaints about the quality and effectiveness of our 999 emergency service. In fact national surveys indicate that our standards of performance and care at incidents are amongst the highest in the country. However, new Government guidelines give us the opportunity to set ourselves even higher performance targets, and to continue to improve our contribution to the safety of our communities.

The attendance time will be measured from the time of the call to the time the first operational resource arrives at the incident. This includes an average call-handling and mobilising time of two-and-a-half minutes.

The standard complies with the Fire and Rescue Act 2004 and the National Framework, both of which expect Fire and Rescue Authorities to explore strategies that increase public and staff safety.

In determining an appropriate standard of emergency response to the communities served by the authority, account has been taken of national guidance on speed of response, recommendations based on medical standards and the experiences and development of good practice across the UK’s fire and rescue services.

Extensive analysis of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s historical incident data provides an indication of the standards of emergency response that we have achieved over recent years. This data has been used to establish ‘stretched’ response standards, which aim to not only maintain public safety according to the high level of public expectation, but also to provide a performance management framework and targets upon which to enhance our performance in the future.

The opportunity now exists both to monitor performance against the standard, and to review the standard and the deployment of operational resources in the future.

The outcomes arising from the trial will be monitored by officers to ensure that public and crew safety is maintained and opportunities for enhancement also explored. A summary of the effects and the implications will be published at the end of the trial period and recommendations presented to the authority’s members for consideration.

We would like to hear from you if you would like to comment on the above trial. Please respond by post or email by 31 December 2007.

Postal responses
ACO Des Williamson
Director of Risk Management
Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service
HP20 1BD

Email responses
Please write Speed of response in the subject box and email to info@bucksfire.gov.uk