999 response times to West Fife villages increase
EMERGENCY response times to the West Fife villages have increased by an average of more than four minutes since the new Dunfermline fire station opened.
Appliances are taking longer to reach 999 calls in places such as Oakley, Valleyfield and Kincardine but fire chiefs insist the villages are "one of the safest areas" in Scotland.
Fife councillors will be told today (Thursday) that response times have increased by more than a third in some areas, added time that opponents argued would put lives at risk.
In a report, chief fire officer Neil McFarlane said, "The fire appliance response times to certain areas of Fife have increased since the opening of the new Dunfermline fire station.
"This has to be balanced against the prevention work that has been carried out in the West Fife villages and the number of accidental dwelling fires in the area compared to the Fife and Scottish averages."
He said investment in community safety had driven down the number of fires in the area to the extent that the "West of Fife is statistically one of the safest areas in Scotland to live in relation to incidents of fires in the home".
The new £4million fire station opened in Pitreavie in March 2010 after a decision was taken to close the Rosyth station and the old Dunfermline station on Carnegie Drive.
The report compares the period of April to December 2009 with April to December 2010.
It says that average response times for major incidents to the 'KY12 9' area, which includes Oakley, Blairhall, Saline and Steelend, have increased from 9 minutes 18 seconds to 13 mins 21 secs.
For the 'KY12 8' area, which includes Cairneyhill, Torryburn, Valleyfield and Culross, they are up from 5 mins 53 secs to 9 mins 50 secs, and for the 'FK10 4' area, covering Kincardine, times have increased from 16 mins 45 secs to 22 mins 3 secs.
Mr McFarlane did add that a mutual assistance arrangement with Central Scotland Fire and Rescue Service meant that appliances from Alloa would often be the "first response" to fires in Kincardine which helped meet "response time standards" until a local crew arrived.
When the idea of moving the station was first mooted, an experienced Dunfermline firefighter told the Press, "Our job isn't pointless.
"We all know that given the chance we can and will help. Being further away gives us and you less chance."
Pitreavie was chosen as it was closer to the major road network and growing communities in the east of Dunfermline and Dalgety Bay areas, while the report says figures show it is "in a central location to mobilise its resources to the majority of incident areas that the service attends in the West of Fife".
Fife Fire and Rescue Service always anticipated response times increasing to certain areas and, as a result, concentrated on fire prevention and education work in the villages.
Mr McFarlane said, "The strategic intent of this approach was to drive down the risk of fire as far as practicable in domestic dwellings.
"This was set against the potential for increased response times to the West Fife villages."
He continued, "A comparison of the number of accidental dwelling fires, which are a primary indicator of performance, is critical in determining the perceived/actual risk.
"As can be seen ... the instances of accidental dwelling fires in the West Fife area is less than the Fife average and significantly less than the Scottish average."
For the whole of 2010, the fires per 10,000 population were 5.2 compared to 6.6 for the whole of Fife and 10.1 for Scotland.
Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Jun 10, 08:47
No, no, no no. This is wrong at so many levels. Firstly, the fire brigade now have rescue attached to their title. Where are the statistics that West Fife villages have less need for rescuing, in road traffic accidents for instance.
If there is more of a demand at the eastern side of Dunfermline for a fire station, partly owing to DEX, then a fire station should have built into the development costs, not moved from it's central point, leaving one half of Dunfermline more vulnerable than the other.
Don't suppose they'll be a reduction in council tax for our reduced priority.
I am glad to see that the fire service responds from Alloa to Kincardine for safetys sake. But what does this say about having the one in Pitreavie so far away? 10 minutes to arrive at Culross/High Valleyfield. How long does it take do die from smoke inhalation?
Why didn't the powers that be listen to the firefighters?
Recommend? Yes 11 No 0
Jun 10, 14:44
Yet again, this all comes down to costs and so-called "efficiency savings", usually done by people who sit at desks all day and have no idea of the real world in which the emergency services work in.
Surely these increased response times could have been foreseen by the planners when the plans for Pitreavie were first proposed? So why is this latest report any surprise?
Fortunately, as far as I am aware, so far no-one has lost their life due to these increased response times, but one has to wonder how long this good luck can last....................??
On a similar note, perhaps someone from Fife F&R could tell us all why the red warning traffic lights at the approaches to the Pitreavie HBOS roundabout are being used routinely now for all call-outs, rather than their intended purpose of only being used during rush hours to give the appliances fast access to the roundabout?
On numerous occasions during the past few months, I've witnessed these lights being used despite the road being virtually empty.
Recommend? Yes 10 No 2
Jun 11, 21:30
This comment has been removed by a moderator
I agree with Jan
Jun 13, 15:51
Does it really matter when the lights are used?
I'm sure you'd be the first to complain if your house burned down because they didn't have immediate access to the roundabout.
However, I do agree that the new location was badly thought through, even though I live in the DEX
Recommend? Yes 0 No 3
Jun 13, 18:12
Jun 13, 22:11
# I agree with Jan
No that wasn't my point; I was trying to demonstrate that the crews are having to use the traffic lights on virtually all call-outs just to meet these daft response time targets, even when the roundabout approach roads are quiet.
Isn't it truly shocking that Fife F&R management took the decision to re-locate the main fire station in Dunfermline to a totally inappropriate location and then close Rosyth fire station, solely on costs and "efficiency savings"?
A 2 year-old kid could've predicted the resulting increase in response times, but oh no, the fire board members thought they knew best and went ahead with it anyway.
I'm still waiting for a response from Fife F&R on this subject...............................
Recommend? Yes 2 No 0
Jun 14, 18:50
I agree with jan (I didn't see the post which was removed, please tell me it wasn't smacked **** face jan that you agreed with 'cos she's just a nasty and unsavoury pleb that we are burdened with on these forums), as Shah was making a fair point in the whole sorry story that is worming it's way through this once great Kingdom Of Fife at the moment.
Recommend? Yes 0 No 0