'Pre-alert' system helps firefighters shave vital moments off response times

Firefighters in Tyne and Wear have shaved vital seconds off the time it takes them to reach serious incidents by gearing up before they have even been called out.

A new system has been helping firefighters get to incidents more quickly
A new system has been helping firefighters get to incidents more quickly

A pre-alert system was introduced for responders almost two years ago to give them a heads up of suspected blazes.

And in some cases it is hoped the change could have helped crews get to the scene up to half minute faster than they did before.

“The idea is to try and give our firefighters the maximum amount of warning when a fire call is coming in,” said Phil Clark, area manager at the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS).

“If a 999 call comes in from an area, firefighters are being alerted to that while the caller is still on the call, so they’re in the pre-alert phase ready to deploy.

“As a result of that we’ve seen some really good reductions in the times taken, which will become apparent.”

Clark was speaking at a meeting of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority’s Policy and Performance Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

The pre-alert system was introduced from April 2019.

Under national response standards, fire crews are supposed to be dispatched within a minute of being notified of the most serious incidents and arrive six minutes later.

The average response time to ‘primary fires’ among English fire brigades in 2019/20 was eight minutes and 43 seconds, making TWFRS the fastest in the country, with an average response time of six minutes 29 seconds.

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