Some 999 calls won’t be an­swered

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - HERALD & POST -

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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