Middlesbrough Herald & Post

Some 999 calls won’t be answered

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CLEVELAND Fire Brigade will no longer respond to automatic alarms during office hours.

From Monday, October 2, appliances will only be sent when there is evidence of a real fire rather than business alarms being accidental­ly activated through cigarette smoke, cooking fumes, dust or other minor causes.

This applies to commercial premises, schools, public buildings and leisure complexes.

During the day - from 8am to 5pm - when these premises are staffed, confirmati­on of a fire must be received through a 999 call.

The stance, in line with other fire and rescue services across the country, is in a bid to reduce timewastin­g call-outs and getting businesses to ensure their systems are working properly.

It comes as latest figures show the brigade attended nearly 600 automatic alarms in 2015/16 between 8am and 5pm – and only 12 were fires.

The changes do not affect houses, flats and other residentia­l premises, however, and the brigade insists the measures do not put the public at risk.

Phil Lancaster, director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade said: “This approach puts the onus back on businesses to get their alarms properly maintained.”

He said alarms are sometimes set off due to “something as simple as someone burning their toast or smoking too close to the alarm system.”

He added: “In these sit- uations there is absolutely no reason for the fire service to be called out.

“Our new policy will mean crews are not detracted from real emergencie­s where lives could be at risk.”

Firefighte­rs will still attend automatic fire alarms outside office hours, weekends and on Bank Holidays, when fewer people are at work and there is a higher risk of alarm activation signalling a real fire.

The brigade will also attend high risk properties between 8am and 5pm, such as chemical sites and places with a “sleeping risk” such as hospitals.

Heritage sites such as Ormesby Hall, Preston Park Hall and Wynyard Hall are also exempt from the new policy.

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