London Fire Brigade ‘slow to learn’, inspectors say

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) is "slow to learn" and requires improvement in three key areas, a watchdog has said.

Firefighters at the country's largest service are attending a disproportionately high number of false alarms, while some drivers have not received refresher training for 20 years, according to a "disappointing" report.

The latest investigation, by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), analysed performance across one third of the country's 45 fire services.

It found that the Essex and Gloucestershire services were also underperforming in terms of effectiveness and efficiency, as well as how they treat people.

Cleveland, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire were identified as six of the 15 fire services deemed "good" in all three areas.


The London brigade's assessment identified areas of strength, such as being well-resourced with staff and exceeding its own standards on response times.

However, the report criticised its current effectiveness for protecting the public through fire regulation and how it uses resources.

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It also said the LFB was "worryingly inadequate" at "getting the right people with the right skills", but had "clearly learned lessons from the Grenfell Tower incident".

Image: London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton saw the report before announcing her early resignation

Matt Parr, HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services, said the report was "disappointing", adding: "There are too many areas where the London Fire Brigade needs to make improvements."

He continued: "Many of its projects are wasteful, projects get started and stalled.

"The organisation as a whole is slow to learn.

"We are absolutely not criticising every firefighter in London – there are lots of people who are very dedicated.

"But what it doesn't leave you with is the impression that the organisation is well-run and where value for money is top of their agenda."

Mr Parr said that LFB commissioner Dany Cotton, who will stand down at the end of the month, had seen the report before she announced the decision to bring her resignation forward from April 2020.

The report said the LFB had been "slow to implement the changes needed" following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, and found some fire engine drivers had not received refresher training for up to 20 years, despite national guidance recommending it takes place every five years.

It also found that the LFB had not done enough to "reduce the burden of false alarms".

Mr Parr described LFB response times – some six minutes and 39 seconds on average as of the year 2017-18 – as "excellent", but said around 48% of its call-outs were false alarRead More – Source