Well at last West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has been shamed in to putting some performance information on the County Council website. Unfortunately, there is no previous performance information for comparison, so it will take a while to see the real benefits of the information. For those not wishing to wait I can offer some past information for comparison. Beginning with the total number of incidents and the number of operational fire engines in service. You will note that the number of incidents is still well above the 1970's and early 1980's figures, but that the number of fire engines has been significantly cut.
It seems that WSFRS managers are avid readers of this blog and the Facebook page and they are always critical, even before they have checked the information for accuracy. So to clarify, all my information comes from their records or from government statistics. Their other regular misleading criticism is that the information is ‘selective’. To the extent that, if I am showing the cut in fire engines, then of course I am going to show the figures for the number of fire engines. After all it would be pretty silly to say ‘they have cut fire engines’ and then just show the change in the number of officer cars!
I also don’t have all the figures for every year, so can’t possibly show figures that I do not have. It is also unhelpful when they change how they record or present statistics, which means year on year comparisons can’t be made. A recent example is road traffic collisions. Now you would think it quite straightforward, one or more vehicles collide and the fire & rescue service is called, so that equals one call to a road traffic collision.
Well that is how it used to be, but now it might not be recorded as a road traffic collision! Apparently, if they don’t do anything when they arrive, it will be recorded as a ‘false alarm’. As this defies common sense, you have to wonder why they want to mislead the public on how many road traffic collisions they attend. Perhaps these figures give a clue?
Finally, a comparison chart for the availability of fire engines crewed by part time (Retained Duty System) firefighters. Now as recently as 2012, the advertised target for this was 88%, but mysteriously they later cut the target to 75%. You will note that they are even failing to meet that lowered target. Targets were supposed to be part of the Integrated Risk Management Plans, which are subject to public consultation. Yet the last IRMP consultation was in 2009, so who was consulted on the cut and did County Councillors approve it?
The situation is clearly serious and Councillors were told in October that a major review of the Retained Duty System was underway and that there had already been wide consultation within the service. Yet nine months on, no report on the review has been published. More fiddling whilst West Sussex burns?