Do Response Times Still Matter?

At the recent LGA Fire Conference in Brighton, ORH was very pleased to run a busy workshop session looking at response times and attendance standards for fire and rescue services. We presented innovative analysis on the increases in response times to fires in England and Wales, and the implications of these. To support our quantitative assessment, we were joined by Dave Etheridge (past president of CFOA) who offered his insights from an operational perspective. The full abstract from the workshop was as follows:

Over the past decade the number of incidents attended by UK fire services has fallen, yet it has coincided with an increase in average response times.  At a time when HMICFRS is asking services to demonstrate efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery, it’s essential that FRSs understand why it now takes longer to respond to fewer incidents.  In this workshop we will consider the effect this trend has on the fire service and the public, the factors that are driving it, and the strategies management has at its disposal to reverse it.

Using the most recent national data on incident statistics and response times, we will examine the relationships between key performance indicators and, more specifically, how longer response times can affect operational outcomes and society.  We believe that this new insight will promote lively discussion about the importance of response times, and how to quantify these through real time data analytics.  For comparison purposes, we will present analysis on trends for fire services internationally and on ambulance response times in the UK.  Finally, by using conclusions reached during the analysis, we will explore potential approaches for reducing response times, optimising coverage and, ultimately, reducing risk to the public.

If you would like to view the slides from the presentation, or have any questions about the issues raised, please contact Graham Holland (

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