20mph: Response times 'will be affected' by the default speed limit say senior fire officers

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Senior North Wales Fire and Rescue Service officers have admitted some response times "will be affected" by the default 20mph speed limit in Wales.

All former 30mph roads have been reduced to 20mph, but there are some 'exception roads' which have not been subject to the change.

Firefighters can exceed the speed limit in fire engines, those travelling to fire stations in a private vehicle must abide by the 20mph law.

Head of response, Paul Jenkinson said: "The reduction in speed to 20mph may cause a slight delay in our response times to incidents.

"However, given the exemption from the speed limits in law, fire appliances (engines) can go above the speed limit."

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service's assistant chief fire officer Stuart Millington has echoed this too.

He was delivering a presentation to members of Conwy Council's finance and resources overview and scrutiny committee when senior fire officers were explaining controversial proposals to close or scale back operations at several North Wales Fire Stations.

Mr Millington was asked by Conwy councillor Sian Grady, who was concerned Conwy station could close, if response times would be reduced.

He responded: "In terms of the 20mph speed limit, that's a complex subject in its own right with lots of opinion and debate that we are already aware of.

"We did provide a consultation response in relation to the 20mph response, and it was debated, and we provide information on what that would mean for reduced response times for on-call firefighters.

And added: "Of course, whole-time firefighters have exemptions. When we are in a fire engine, we can exceed speed limits. But when our staff are responding from their home address or from work to the fire station, then they do have to apply to those 20mph restrictions."

"So we did provide feedback and make our representations, but ultimately we have to apply the law, and you are quite right - it will have an impact on response times."

The fire service is reassessing its resources and how it can get to rural areas sooner, but the proposed reorganisation could mean reducing cover in other areas by cutting 24-hour service in favour of day cover and reducing equipment.

Fire officers presented three different options to councillors, including one which would see Conwy's fire station closed together with those at Llanberis, Beaumaris, Abersoch, and Cerrigydrudion.

A public consultation on the matter has now ended, and a final decision is expected in December.

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