Officers from the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service have been reminded that they must keep to speed limits when not responding to 999 calls, following a complaint made to the county council.
The advice – given to ’emergency response drivers’ – was revealed in a report detailing the complaints and compliments made to Hertfordshire County Council during 2020/21.
That report highlights 35 compliments that were received in relation to the county’s Fire and Rescue Service and the council’s other community protection services during the 12-month period.
And it records nine complaints against the fire service – which included the conduct and/or standard of driving of a fire service vehicle as well as concern over the slow response to an incident.
According to the report – presented to a meeting of the county council’s resources and performance cabinet panel on Friday (February 11) – emergency response drivers have been reminded that they must adhere to speed limits.
And, says the report, training for emergency response drivers and officers in charge is to include awareness regarding the impact of the use of the fire engine’s ‘bull horn’ may have on other road users.
Following the meeting a spokesperson for the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service stressed that their drivers are only allowed to exceed the legal speed limit when responding to an emergency call – if safe to do so.
And he said officers in charge are trained to be able to ensure a fire engine is being driven safely.
“While it is important that we can get to emergencies quickly, we have a responsibility to other road users which we take very seriously,” he said.
“Our emergency response drivers undergo intensive training before they are allowed to respond to emergency calls.
“Our drivers are only allowed to exceed the legal speed limit when they are responding to an emergency call, and even then only when they have assessed the situation and conditions and are confident that it is safe to do so at that time.
“Drivers may also use audible warning devices where it is necessary and safe to do so.
“The officers in charge of each fire engine are trained to be able to monitor the driving and ensure that the fire engine is being driven safely.”
Other fire service complaints reported to the cabinet panel related to the conduct of staff – including inappropriate and offensive remarks on social media – and to unhappiness about the appearance of a fire service building.
And as a result, according to the report, fire service personnel are to be reminded of their responsibilities when posting material on social media.
Complaints and compliments are used by the county council as an indicator or service performance.
But the report stresses the low number of complaints relating to community protection has made it difficult for the service to draw robust conclusions or identify particular areas of weakness in terms of performance.
In addition it refers to eight complaints received in 2020/21 in relation to trading standards services.
The trading standards complaints are reported to have predominantly related to unhappiness with the level of service provided, with a single complaint about conduct of a staff member.
The report was presented to a meeting of the county council’s resources and performance cabinet panel on Friday (February 11) which can be viewed online.