Surrey Council has announced new ways to measure the performance of Surrey Fire and Rescue Service. They intend to measure the response time to a fire from the time an engine is deployed, rather than when the call is made.
Perhaps this is part of their strategy for it’s fire service to ‘be in the top 25% for performance and the bottom 25% for cost’. The Council say that this performance criteria will bring them in line with most other councils. What is clear is that councils can put in their own performance measurement and this has been the case since 2006, when the government discontinued shared standards. Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) figures showed Surrey Fire and Rescue Service in the bottom 25% of fire and rescue services in the UK between 1996 and 2006, so it was clear they needed to do something.
Now they have done what is typical of most civil services; instead of improving performance they change the criteria to make their current performance look better whilst actually changing nothing! Just consider the nonsense of the following scenario: You have a fire in your house and telephone the fire service. The fire service arrive after twenty minutes, by which time most of your property has been destroyed. The figures released by Surrey Council may show a different response time – say seven minutes – and you will never know where the other thirteen minutes went. Was there a delay in putting your emergency call through to the fire service or was there a delay in the control room?
Whilst you as the consumer have been duped I’m sure Surrey Council will be applauding themselves for improving performance! At what cost?