South Yorkshire fire service misses response time target

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South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue has never met its own time target for responding to emergencies, according to fire authority figures.

In 2006 the service said it would reach 80% of life-threatening incidents within six minutes, but last year crews only made it to 55%.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said lives were being put at risk.

But Assistant Chief Fire Officer John Roberts said they "have to be realistic about what we can achieve."

Mr Roberts said the service would be setting a new target in consultation with the public.

'Realistic target'

"We have never achieved the target which we've set ourselves," he said.

"Fire does spread quickly, and a lot of the work we do is around prevention to stop the fire from starting in the first place.

"In terms of getting there as quickly as we can, we will always make that commitment to the public, but with the ongoing financial situation we have to be realistic about what we can achieve now and in the future."

The fire service said the government was reducing its funding by about £10m by 2015, and the fire authority last month agreed to increase its council tax precept by 1.98% to bring in an extra £400,000 in annual revenue.

John Gilliver, from the FBU in South Yorkshire, said: "It used to be achieved when it was five minutes, so it is a realistic target and it's one that needs to be achieved once again. You need to be there as quick as you can, because as a fire develops it's not only the people who probably could lose a life in that fire, but also the firefighters' lives are put at risk."

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