CI Loebenburg’s quick fire report
it was Fire Service Chief, Cyril O’Brien’s turn. Once again, statistics were rattled out like a
machine gun. Fires were at their lowest level since 1965, half were false alarms and his
appliances were in use only 7% of the time. Attendance at Road Traffic Accidents was up
as were rescues from stuck lifts. Some companies were “using the Fire Service as lift
engineers” and if such a call out is made more than ten times the company is
charged. The plan is to reduce the number to three. Over what period wasn’t stated.
The service’s official statistics for Bexley (PDF) show that lift incidents have fallen by 30% in the past three yeras.
The closure of fire stations including neighbouring Woolwich and a London wide reduction of 18 appliances will impact on response times. The expectation is that the first appliance will arrive at an incident in 5 minutes and 36 seconds, 15 seconds slower than before.
The population of Bexley has risen 6%, incidents have fallen 44% and fires are down by 61% over the last ten years.
Councillor Seán Newman asked what the effect of cuts in Kent would have on Bexley. The answer was “Not much”.
Councillor Steven Hall asked how many people responded to the public survey on the future of the service. The answer is not available, at least not to Cyril yet, but he did have the number of attendees at the Bromley/Bexley combined public meeting to hand. One.
Councillor Hall also prompted the information that unserviceable appliances are replaced from a central store within the hour.
At this point I couldn’t help but notice the faces of Conservative councillors - the Labour members had their back to me. Councillors Read, Sawyer, Don Massey and Tarrant were showing the signs of extreme boredom. Yawns and staring into space, or in Alex Sawyer’s case working on some document or other. Not that I necessarily blame them, the report had gone on rather a long time under councillor Alan Downing’s directionless chairmanship.
Immediately following that observation it was confounded by councillor John Wilkinson who said the report was “very interesting” and asked if the reduction in incidents was “not just a blip”. Maybe Wilkinson had been asleep too because the Fire Chief had said the reductions had been steady over ten years several times.
In an effort to maintain the downward trend Chief O’Brien said he was encouraging developers to lay six inch water mains instead of four and was funding sprinklers for housing associations.
The next item on the Agenda - Performance Management, Quarter 4, 2012/13 wasn’t discussed at all. Maybe nobody wanted to mention Page 16 which revealed that Bexley is lagging the London average on seven out of 27 indicators. More than a quarter are not up to scratch.