Written evidence submitted by London Fire Brigade (RSM0100)


London Fire Brigade (LFB) is London's fire and rescue service - one of the largest firefighting and rescue organisations in the world and we are here to make London a safer city. Decisions are made either by the London Fire Commissioner (the statutory fire and rescue authority for Greater London), the Mayor of London or the Deputy Mayor for Fire and Resilience. A Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning Committee of the London Assembly holds the Commissioner, Mayor and Deputy Mayor to account.


SMART motorways can pose unique challenges to emergency services when responding to incidents. Traffic can become very heavy in a short period of time. This proves particularly difficult when there is no dedicated hard shoulder which is the case for All Lanes Running. Depending on the time of day and traffic volume it is very likely that traffic will become congested quickly behind the incident causing delays for responding emergency services. When an Incident is identified signage is put in place to create a temporary hard shoulder for responding appliances. However, it is recognised that the vehicles in the temporary hard shoulder close to the incident are unlikely to be able to move out of the way causing delay to our response.


When an incident occurs causing all lanes to be closed this will cause heavy traffic back log. Reverse access is an option for attending crews to utilise. This is where appliances will go ahead of the incident and enter the motorway driving along the affected carriageway in the opposite direction to the normal traffic flow. However, this can only be implemented under clear direction and permission from the police as crews need to have confirmation that the traffic in front of the incident has been moved away and will not cause an emergency responder to have a collision. This causes significant delays to emergency response.


Although LFB in principle understand that Smart Motorways have been designed to improve traffic flow and movement it must be highlighted that they can cause considerable delay to any emergency responder.


April 2021