More than half fire crew call outs in one year are false alarms

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - ALEX HIB­BERT

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.

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