Longer fire services response times

01/11/2007 15:00

The call-out response times of the fire services have increased continually in recent years. This is mainly a result of the longer time it takes for the vehicles to leave the fire station. In small municipalities it takes the fire services longer to reach their destination than in large cities.

Most calls are false alarms

In 2006 the Dutch fire services recorded 113 thousand fire alarms. In 50 thousand cases these concerned actual fires. The remainder were false alarms

The response time for fire call-outs has been increasing for years. In 2006, for example, in 70 percent of call-outs it took the fire services 8 minutes or longer to get to the fire. This is the target time specified in the fire security guidelines for residential buildings. In 2000 this was the case for 46 percent of fires.

Longer departure times

The increase in the average response time is mainly a result of the longer time it takes for the vehicles to leave the fire station. In 2000 it took fire engines an average of just over 4 minutes from receiving the alarm call to leave the station. In 2006 this had risen to nearly 8 minutes. One explanation for this is that more and more alarms are relayed through regional alarm centres.

Driving time slightly up

Unlike the departure time, the average driving time rose only slightly between 2000 and 2006. In 2000 the time from station to fire was just over 4 minutes, in 2006 this had risen to nearly five minutes.

Average response time (departure time + driving time)

Average response time (departure time + driving time)

Fire services prompter in large cities

The fire services arrived at the scene of fires much more quickly in the four large cities than in smaller municipalities (fewer than 50 thousand inhabitants). In the four large cities they reached the fire on average 10 minutes after receiving the call-out. In municipalities with fewer than 50 thousand inhabitants this was more than 13 minutes.

The driving time was about the same in both groups of municipalities. The shorter response times in the large cities can be explained by the fact that on duty firemen there stay at the station and can respond more quickly.

Average response time (departure time + driving time)
by municipal size

Average response time (departure time + driving time)

Dick Boer and Wim Vissers