More than half fire crew call outs in one year are false alarms
MORE than 150 hours of firefighters’ time is being wasted attending automatic alarm calls where there is no fire.
Figures obtained by the Express through a Freedom of Information request show fire crews were called out to 458 incidents in Macclesfield from April 1, 2013, to March 31 this year. And of these more than half – 266 – turned out to be false alarms.
The average time it took the fire service to deal with a false alarm before being free to attend another job in 2013/14 was 35 minutes.
That means a total of 9,310 minutes, or just more than 155 hours, has been spent attending false alarms in the last. Automatic fire alarms (AFAs) are devices which are triggered by a change in conditions – such as heat or smoke detectors.
The fire service condemned the amount of time wasted by responding to the false call outs.
Keith Brooks, head of prevention and protection at Cheshire Fire and Rescue, said: “Earlier this year we changed our procedures in responding to Automatic Fire Alarms as almost 99 per cent of them turned out to be false alarms. This led to a significant reduction in the number of incidents we attended.
“AFAs cost business time, money and divert firefighters from genuine emergencies and other duties. They also put road users and pedestrians at risk as fire engines respond at speed on blue lights.
“It is important for people to know however that emergency attendance to places where people sleep, such as care homes, hospitals, and hotels, has not changed and is never challenged.”
Coun Bill Livesley, pictured, a member of Cheshire Fire Authority, said that the time wasted on responding to false calls has been drastically reduced in recent years.
He said: “The way that the service responds to call outs has changed and so in the last eight years time wasted has been reduced by about 70 per cent.”
For more information visit the Business Safety page on the website cheshirefire. gov.uk.