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Fire chiefs say response times will be hit by 20 mph speed limit

09 Oct 2023 4 minute read
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service vehicles

Richard Evans, local democracy reporter

Senior fire and rescue officers have said response times will be affected by the default 20mph speed limit across Wales.

Apart from special exemptions, the speed limits of all former 30mph roads have been reduced to 20mph following the new legislation being introduced last month.

Whilst firefighters can exceed the speed limit in fire engines, those travelling to fire stations in a private vehicle must abide by the 20mph law.

When asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service if the new 20mph speed limit would affect response times, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s head of response Paul Jenkinson admitted it would.

“The reduction in speed to 20mph may cause a slight delay in our response times to incidents,” said Mr Jenkinson.

“However, given the exemption from the speed limits in law, fire appliances (engines) can go above the speed limit.”

This same opinion was delivered by North Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s assistant chief fire officer Stuart Millington.

Controversial proposals

Mr Millington was delivering a presentation to members of Conwy Council’s finance and resources overview and scrutiny committee when senior fire officers were explaining controversial proposals to close or scale back operations at several North Wales Fire Stations.

During the meeting, Conwy councillor Sian Grady, who was concerned Conwy station could close, asked if response times would be affected.

Mr Millington said: “In terms of the 20mph speed limit, that’s a complex subject in its own right with lots of opinion and debate that we are already aware of.

“We did provide a consultation response in relation to the 20mph response, and it was debated, and we provide information on what that would mean for response times for on-call firefighters.

Of course, whole-time firefighters have exemptions.

“When we are in a fire engine, we can exceed speed limits.

“But when our staff are responding from their home address or from work to the fire station, then they do have to apply to those 20mph restrictions.

“So we did provide feedback and make our representations, but ultimately we have to apply the law, and you are quite right – it will have an impact on response times.”

The fire service is reassessing its resources and how it can get to rural areas sooner, but the proposed reorganisation could mean reducing cover in other areas by cutting 24-hour service in favour of day cover and reducing equipment.

Fire officers presented three different options to councillors, including one which would see Conwy’s fire station closed together with those at Llanberis, Beaumaris, Abersoch, and Cerrigydrudion.

A public consultation on the matter has now ended, and a final decision is expected in December.

Mr Millington said the decision would be made by fire authority members but added public opinion was strong.

He said: “I think the fire authority members – and this is a members’ decision not an officer decision – I think the fire authority members felt that with the economic climate being as it was, it was only right and proper to include an option that saved some money.

“And the kind of money that needed to be saved could only be achieved by including options that included station closures.

“So the authority members wanted to consult the public on that.

“I think that it’s been very clear from the consultations that have taken place in those station areas what the strength of feeling is from the public in those five station areas, and that’ll certainly be taken on board by fire authority members when they reconvene to debate this issue.

“So that’s why it was included. It was felt that it was right and proper.”


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Mawkernewek
1 month ago

“response times will be reduced” – surely that’s a good thing?

Philip
Philip
1 month ago

What an extraordinary headline. The person actually said it might slow down the response time and anyway fire engines could exceed the speed limit.

Twm Llewelyn
1 month ago
Reply to  Philip

Fire engines are only part of the story old boy. They need a crew and they need to get to said engine.

Robert Russ
Robert Russ
1 month ago
Reply to  Twm Llewelyn

They are on duty in the station its only part time firefighters who would have that problem in rural areas where traffic is lighter anyway

oatmaster
oatmaster
1 month ago

Responses might, potentially, in theory be slightly delayed? I mean, yes, obviously they might. They might also be quicker if you imagine slightly different circumstances. The overall impact of reduced road deaths compared to fire deaths would be a more relevant measure and we won’t know that for a while.

Robert Russ
Robert Russ
1 month ago

Utter tripe emergency service vehicles are exempt from posted speed limits when travelling under Blue lights. Another example of whinging for the sake of it.

Evans
Evans
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Russ

Staff travelling to fire station has to keep to 20mph , not tripe, especially not manned ones

Jef33
Jef33
1 month ago

Simple. Supply temporary emergency siren and lights to registered vehicles. can Senedd commission speed gun app for law abiding citizen to clock and expose law breakers on our streets.

Karl
Karl
1 month ago

Yet at 20mph, easier to respond and get out of the way of an engine. If you was on a tight spot, mounting a curb at slower speed is more controlled and safer for all. Now more full time firefighters am all for. But 30 mph might mean less crashes to cut people out of.

Damian
Damian
1 month ago

As usual the 20mphs miss the point. With station closures, part time fire fighters may have to travel further to respond, therefore reducing efficiency by longer response times. Typical council budget cuts, slice emergency services! Flaming Senydd sent back £155,000,000 they couldn’t spend, that would cover the whole of Welsh emergency services! Useless Senydd

Paul
Paul
1 month ago

The article is about slower response times due to ‘on-call’ firefighters having to travel at 20mph to get to station (assuming they travel by car).

It then goes on to talk about closing local fire stations, presumably in favour of one larger central fire station, but they don’t mention how closing local fire stations will affect response times, only that it might save money.

Are they concerned about response times or not?

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