Fire response times under the spotlight

IT took the Fire Service almost half an hour to respond to two incidents in the district, it has been revealed.

The alarming statistic was uncovered following a Freedom of Information request by ‘The Detail’ which gave details of every call responded to by NIFRS.

In one of the most serious cases uncovered two men were trapped following a one car traffic accident in Banbridge in September 2012. It took the local crew 28 minutes to arrive at the scene. One man was released by fire fighters using cutting gear – he had neck and back injuries. The other male had “injury to ribs”.

The NIFRS said: “It should have taken no more than 5-7 minutes to get to the location of the [road traffic collision]. We can see no explanation on the log as to why the attendance time was so long and therefore we conclude it was a failure to book in attendance correctly.”

Meanwhile in February 2011, it took a crew 29 minutes to reach a major fire in the bedroom of a detached house in Leitrim caused by an electrical appliance. The 999 call was made just before 1am. There were three casualties with smoke inhalation and a smoke alarm had alerted them to the fire.

The NIFRS said that this call was attended by retained fire fighters from Newcastle and the incident was 8.5 miles from the station.

The statistics also gave details of the number of incidents responded to by local units. Both of the district’s fire stations in Banbridge and Rathfriland are retained, meaning crew members are based in their own towns and go about their daily business until they receive an emergency call. They then make their way to the fire station and respond to the incident.

Between 2011 and 2012 the units at Rathfriland Fire Station responded to 258 incidents, responding in an average of 13 minutes. Of those calls 164 were fires, where the average response time was 14 minutes.

The largest station of the two, Banbridge responded to 485 calls over the same time period and did so in an average response time of eight minutes. That average time remained the same for fires only, of which there were 270 calls.