TARGET response times for Doncaster fire crews to attend life-threatening incidents could be axed under new proposals revealed today.
The current target – where South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue aims to attend 80 per cent of house fires or road crashes in six minutes or less – could also be extended to around 10 minutes after the brigade failed to hit the mark.
And a third risk-based option – where communities traditionally prone to more fires have one target and those with fewer blazes a different one – is also being put out to public consultation from Monday.
An operational plan report to fire authority chiefs said: “We will always strive to respond to life-threatening incidents as quickly and as safely as possible. However, given we have never achieved our current six-minute target, and considering that the extent of Government funding cuts means our frontline service is chang-ing, we must be realistic about what we can achieve.
“Response times are an issue of vital importance to anyone who might need to call us for an emergency, so we want to discuss honestly with the public what our future response times approach might be.”
The brigade – which has to save £9.5m over four years – has not met its self-set six-minute target once in six years.
The report to the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority said research showed response times were ‘not the main factor in preventing fire fatalities’.
Numbers of fires involv-ing properties, deaths and injuries plus 999 calls received have all fallen, the brigade says.
But John Gilliver, South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union secretary, said: “If the number of calls are go-ing down why aren’t fire crews able to get there in six minutes? It is achievable. If you take longer to get to an incident the chances are that puts the public’s lives at risk.
“To put this across to the public and ask them to make a decision about something they know nothing about – it’s simply not good enough. That’s why we employ, at great ex-pense, management and they are failing to manage.”
Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband said he was pleased preventative work had reduced the number of fire-related deaths and inju-ries in our region, but was concerned that senior fire-fighters are highlighting the impact of cuts on their
He said: “The public have a right to expect protection from properly resourced emergency services.” Doncaster residents were also concerned.
Zyhanna Jones, aged 22, of Woodlands, said: “I think it should stay how it is. If they remove the target, I’m concerned they would take longer.”