London Fire Brigade

New report reveals full extent of fires during civil disturbances

14 September 2011

Firefighters in London were battling, on average, one fire every nine minutes for five consecutive days during the recent civil disturbances, according to a new report from the London Fire Brigade.

The scene in Croydon after the civil disturbances

The report, which is an initial investigation into the Brigade's activities during the civil disturbances, reveals that firefighters attended at least 807 fires between Saturday 6 August and Wednesday 10 August. The busiest single day for the Brigade came on Tuesday 9 August, when firefighters went to 263 fires - around one every five minutes, on average.

The Brigade's 999 control staff also saw an extraordinary number of calls. For four nights in a row, between Saturday 6 August and Tuesday 9 August, staff were handling, on average, one call every 48 seconds. Over four days, staff handled more than 5,500 calls. The busiest hour for Brigade control staff was between 23.00 and midnight on Monday August 8, when staff were dealing with one call every 11 seconds.

Although the London Fire Brigade experienced one of the busiest periods in its history, it had enough fire engines and firefighters to cope, the report says. One firefighter sustained cuts to the face after bricks were thrown through a fire engine windscreen, however no other firefighters reported being injured while on duty.

Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, Cllr Brian Coleman, said:

"During the civil disturbances, the London Fire Brigade faced its toughest ever test but showed itself to be more than up to the job. Over four nights in August, our firefighters tackled an astonishing number of fires despite facing physical and verbal attacks. It is a disgrace that people with no respect for the law tried to stop firefighters from doing their job.

"Our staff worked through the most difficult circumstances in order to keep London and Londoners safe. Both our firefighters and our 999 control officers deserve immense credit for their hard work during this challenging time."

London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson, said:

"Last month saw one of the busiest and most unpleasant periods in the London Fire Brigade's history. I'd like to pay tribute to all our staff and the other emergency services, all of whom worked so hard to keep London safe during the civil disturbances. In the face of adversity, they remained professional and dignified throughout."


Notes to editors:
Download the report - Civil disturbances in London, August 2011: Brigade response