False alarms spark new fire policy

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service reveal that 94 per cent of calls out were false alarms.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is to roll out new initiatives to reduce ‘unnecessary’ call outs caused by malfunctioning or wrongly installed fire alarms.

The implementation of the automatic fire alarm policy comes into effect from April 1 and is in response to growing concerns over the increase in ‘unnecessary’ call outs.

Between April 2010 and March 2011, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service attended 18,552 calls to incidents - 4339 were calls to automatic fire alarm systems.

Of these only 223 were actual fires and 94 per cent were false alarms.

As part of the policy Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service will reduce the number of appliances sent to domestic property smoke or fire alarms between 8am to 6pm - unless a fire is confirmed.

There will also be a call out charge for non-domestic premises in cases where there have been failures to resolve persistent problems with false reports caused by malfunctioning or wrongly installed equipment.

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A statement from the fire service said: “These unnecessary call outs result in an increase in ‘blue light’ journeys that waste money and increase risk to the public and our crews through the delayed response to genuine emergencies.

“Users of these automatic fire alarm systems also lose confidence in their ability to protect their properties from fire and repeated false alarms risk complacency amongst the users of buildings.

“To ensure we provide the best service to our communities the fire and rescue service is committed to minimising unnecessary call outs.

“A reduction in false alarms will allow service appliances to be available for genuine emergencies and release essential resources for more training; as well as allowing more preventative and protection activities within the community to take place.”

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