Shropshire Star

False alarms cost Shropshire firefighters £384,000

Firefighters in Shropshire attended more than 1,600 false alarms at a cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds in the last year, the Shropshire Star can reveal.


Figures, released following a Freedom of Information request by this newspaper, show that in the last financial year, 2013/14, the callouts cost more than £384,000.

The exact cost of each callout depended on the type of equipment, but cost at least £278.69 for each pumping appliance and crew.

Neil Griffiths, Group Commander for Prevention at Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service, said the service is tackling the issue and the number of false alarms is steadily dropping.

He said: "We're continually trying to drive down unwanted fire signals that are faults on the system or a results of processes going on, for example a toaster too close to a sensor.

"In an effort to drive that down further we send each business a letter after a false alarm telling them the costs and that it ties up a pumping appliance and a crew when it may be needed elsewhere for a rescue or to a traffic accident or another emergency."

The figures showed that in 2013/14 there were 1,251 false alarms due to automatic callouts, where the fire service responds to automatic fire alarms, and 441 false alarms not caused by automatic systems.

Of these, 747 were non-residential, affecting shops, offices, factories, warehouses, restaurants and similar locations.

In previous years the figures were similar. In 2012/13 there were 1,193 false alarms caused by automatic systems and 494 false alarms not caused by automatic systems

In 2011/12 there were 1,155 false alarms caused by automatic systerms and 567 non-automatic system false alarms.

And the issue is an ongoing on for Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service.

Between Tuesday and Thursday this week the fire service was called out to eight automatic fire alarm alerts.

On Tuesday crews were called to Portland Crescent, Shrewsbury and Grainger Drive, Wellington. Wednesday saw four calls to Bank Farm Road and Mytton Oak Road in Shrewsbury, and the Lancaster Avenue and Cemetery Road in Dawley and on Thursday there were calls to High Street, Overton and Monkmoor Road, Shrewsbury.

In all except one case, no action was needed by the fire service. The call to Cemetery Road was investigated but was found to be due to a system fault with the alarm.

Mr Griffiths said: "Since April we are seeing a downward trend. Prior to April we used to send a letter after three activities, but now if is after each one.

"It's an area that we're aware of but buildings with fire alarms there have them to protect people and we wouldn't want them to not have alarms."

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