New research carried out by the BBC has shown that fire crews around the country are taking longer to arrive at house fires due to government cuts to fire and rescue services.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU), who were involved with Radio 5 Live’s investigation into fire brigade response times, aired on 11 December, are calling for national standards on the time it should take first and second fire engines to arrive at fires – second fire engines are critical for back up when firefighters are attending fires. They aren’t allowed to enter a burning building without this back up as it is unsafe.
Sixty per cent of the fire and rescue services that responded to the BBC’s Freedom of Information request said that second fire engines were slower to respond to house fires this year compared to 2010. In some instances, fire engines took more than twice as long to arrive as they had in the past.
The investigation also showed that 55% of fire crews said that the first engines were arriving slower to house fires, with some arriving five minutes longer than in the past.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “There is very long standing evidence that the longer it takes firefighters to get to incidents, the more likely it is that people will be injured or killed.”
The Radio 5 Live investigation highlighted the case of pensioner Bernard Lewis, who died from smoke inhalation days after a house fire in Merseyside when the second fire engine didn’t arrive on time.