Calls to critical fires where the first fire engine met our emergency response standard

The emergency response standards for West Sussex were agreed through consultation with the public in 2008. For our 1st appliance our target is 89%. The standards include the additional call handling time for Fire Control Operators to receive 999 calls, gather incident information and mobilise the nearest available fire crews, as well as their travel time. 
We aim to meet 90% by 2022

West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is in the process of analysing the data for quarter 3 with our partners following the crossover to the new Joint Control Centre with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service. Because of the complex change over process and the need to ensure risk critical systems were given the highest priority, the performance data processing was given a lower priority leading to a delay in publishing the recorded data. When all the raw data is analysed and checked it will be published in April 2020

March 2020 Performance

Current Q4 performance is 89.8% which exceeds a target of 89% for the second period in succession, the average year-to-date figure is slightly lower at 86.7%. Analysis of all calls this year has shown the two factors most likely to impact response times are ‘availability of retained duty system (RDS) pumps’ and ‘long travel distances’ to rural areas.

Last year we missed the target by 1%. This represents a good performance as this has been achieved with less fire engines and fire fighters than when the target was set.
This reduction in resource has been compensated for by proactive management of crewing and constantly moving resources to meet our risk profiles. This is a notable work load for the duty Level 3 officer, but the performance gain is clear.

Reasons for performance

Many factors affect how long it can take us to reach an incident.
  • We live and work in a beautiful county, with some areas far from towns and on narrow or even single track lanes.
  • Sometimes a caller is not sure of the location, or there is an incomplete address.
  • Where we have retained crews, we allow them four minutes to stop what they are doing and travel to their station by car or foot or bike – if it is a busy time of day, they may struggle to get through the traffic to their station, as they aren’t allowed to use lights or horns in their own car and must abide by all the usual rules of the road for a private driver.
  • The nearest station may be not available, either due to a lack of crew, or being busy elsewhere. Another crew may have to be sent from a further distance.
  • Some times people don’t park with thought and we can’t get through the narrow gaps remaining.
  • A level crossing may be down so we need to go a different route if we can.


The managers in Response investigate every incident where we do not meet our attendance times and these form two key themes that we are all working towards addressing. These are ‘Long travel distances’ and Retained Duty System (RDS)/On call Availability’ 
The whole of the FRS is focussed on increasing  RDS availability as when stations are not available our performance is often impacted. West Sussex is predominantly rural and there are areas where we will have difficulty achieving our attendance times due to the distance from a fire station. In these areas we are targeting Prevention work to further reduce demand. 

Critical Fire Risk Map

The map below shows our targets for each area.

2017-2018 Critical Fire Risk Map

Emergency Response Standards

Using our fire risk maps we have divided the County into small geographical area, which are allocated a rating of Very High, High, Medium or Low risk, based on the previous incidents of fires, deaths and injuries, predictive risk data, as well as a measure of demographic risk. These are reviewed on an annual basis.

The attendance times are measured from the moment the call is connected to our mobilising centre to the time the fire engine arrives at the incident.