Fire brigades arrive on the scene of a fire within 10 minutes of the alarm being raised in only 40% of cases, new figures show.
A report by a local authority watchdog shows that it takes over 20 minutes for fire officers to reach the location of a reported fire in 13% of incidents. Almost half of all fires are reached by emergency crews 10 to 20 minutes after they are notified of the fire.
The study by the National Oversight and Audit Commission — a body set up to provide independent scrutiny of the performance of local authorities — found the proportion of fires reached within 10 minutes had increased in 18 council areas last year.
In contrast, the proportion of fires where it took over 20 minutes for the first fire brigade to attend the scene rose in 13 fire authorities.
Fire crews in urban areas had the fastest response times with Cork City fire brigade units reaching almost 90% of all reported fire scenes within 10 minutes, followed by Dublin with 78%.
More than half of all fires were attended within 10 minutes also in Limerick, Louth, Sligo and Waterford. Figures were unavailable for Galway City. Roscommon fire brigade units had the poorest response with only 16% of fires reached within 10 minutes just ahead of Kildare at 20%.
Roscommon also had the slowest mobilisation rate of any local authorities which operate part-time fire services with an average of 7.49 minutes. Sligo had the quickest at 4.26 minutes.
The average time in full-time stations was 1 minute 31 seconds and 5 minutes 38 seconds in local authorities with part-time crews.
This compared with one minute 36 seconds and five minutes 27 seconds in 2015.
It took over 20 minutes for fire brigade units to arrive at fires in more than a quarter of all incidents in Galway County Council’s administrative area last year. This was the highest level in any of the 31 local authorities.
Other areas with a relatively high proportion of response times taking at least 20 minutes were Clare, Roscommon and Wexford.
The Local Government Management Agency said the report highlighted relatively consistent attendance times at fires over the last two years.
“It shows almost 41% of fire scenes are attended within 10 minutes while 86% are attended within 20 minutes, This compares with 40% and 85% respectively in 2015,” the agency said.
Around 22,400 fires were attended by fire brigades around the country last year — an annual decrease of 4%.
However, the number of other emergency callouts rose by over 10% to 9,700.
Meanwhile, the commission report also showed the number of complaints to local authorities about pollution rose 15% last year to 63,587. The level of complaints rose in 26 of the country’s 32 councils including a 300% increase in Galway City.
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