Response Times

For Victoria’s emergency service, time is everything. Seconds can be the difference between life and death.

That’s why Victoria’s fire services currently have the globally accepted target of being on-scene at any emergency within 8 minutes.

The Napthine – Wells cuts will inevitably lead to longer response times. Lives and property will be lost.

Actually, the global standard is 7.7 minutes. Decades of research and experience show that if a fire crew is on scene in 7.7 minutes they have the maximum chance of saving people from a burning building, and preventing the fire spreading from the room of origin.

MFB crews have to be on-scene, anywhere in their Melbourne area, within 7.7 minutes of receiving a call.

  • In 2010-2011 the MFB met the response time standard for 87.3 per cent of calls.
  • The MFB contained building fires to the room of origin in 91 per cent of cases.

The MFB also provides Emergency Medical Response, vital first aid before an ambulance arrives.

  • In 2010-2011 the MFB responded to 3190 EMR calls.
  • Through firefighters’ rapid response, EMR saves many lives in the community each year.

CFA crews have 90 seconds to be out the door of their fire station, and 8 minutes to be on-scene.

  • 8-minute response provides the
  • best chance of preventing fire spreading
  • best chance of saving lives
  • best chance of saving property

8-minute response saves money

  • it is cheaper to save property than rebuild
  • it is cheaper insurance premiums
  • there can be no price on a lost life

This standard must be maintained. Waiting for a fire engine to respond to a kitchen blaze, car accident or heart attack shouldn’t be like waiting for RACV road service.

Any erosion of these times will cost lives, property, higher insurance premiums

The threats to fire brigade response times are already apparent:

  • the failure to implement the 2009 ruling for more staff at 24 fire stations in growing areas
  • the temporary closures of fire stations due to staff shortages
  • vital firefighting equipment lying idle due to staff shortages
  • bureaucratic suggestions to save money by reducing staffing at ‘less critical times’

Beancounters don’t understand the difference between efficiency and safety. It frustrates them that firefighting isn’t a steady task where what you don’t finish today can be done tomorrow. They don’t understand the ebb and flow of work, the quiet days and the busy nights of house fires and car accidents.

They can trim back Melbourne’s overnight protection – yet some of our biggest blazes have started in the early hours of the morning. With their crystal ball technology, they want to predict when and where fires will happen and roster as needed!


If these cuts proceed, ultimately it will mean that in an emergency you may wait longer for a fire crew. Whether it’s a house fire, a car accident, or a medical emergency. These cuts will put the community at risk. Lives and property will be lost.

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