Firefighters facing false alarms every fortnight at hospital trust

Firefighters attended false alarms, on average, almost every fortnight at the Doncaster & Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Figures from NHS Digital show the fire and rescue service were called out to false alarms 22 times in the 12 months to March.

The number of false alarms at the hospital trust has concerned the fire service

The number of false alarms at the hospital trust has concerned the fire service

In addition to the 22 incidents firefighters attended, there were a further 69 false alarms that did not receive an emergency response.

This represents an increase of five per cent in five years, although it is not known how many false alarms firefighters were actually called out to in previous years.

Fires broke out on one occasion over the course of the year, but nobody was injured

The majority of alarms are caused by automatic systems, which may summon the fire service as soon as they activate.

Most are caused by faulty or damaged systems, or by things such as burnt toast, steam or dust.

According to the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), false alarms are a growing problem, costing ‘thousands of staff hours’ every year.

But repeated incidents can pose a risk to safety by causing complacency towards what could be genuine alarm.

Paul McCourt, from the NFCC, has warned that the increase in false alarms is having an impact on NHS services.

He said: “False fire alarm activations cause huge problems for the NHS and the fire and rescue service.

“Every year thousands of staff hours are lost due to false alarms and unwanted fire signals.

“This affects both fire and health service delivery, business continuity and patient care.

“By working together on the management and maintenance of fire alarm systems we can deliver the best possible services to the public without increasing costs or down time.”

Sara Gorton, from the health workers union UNISON, said it was ‘yet another example’ of underfunding in the NHS.

She said: “False fire alarms are not only disruptive for staff and patients, but also pose a risk to their safety.

“It’s time the Government acted to address the rising backlog of repairs affecting trusts.”Mr McCourt continued: “NFCC asks that local NHS organisations contact and work directly with their local fire and rescue services who are able to help and advise on how best to address the growing problem of false alarms and unwanted fire signals.”

An NHS spokesman said: “All NHS hospitals take fire safety seriously.

“This includes following national fire safety regulations which require them to maintain their automatic fire detection systems.

“We would expect all NHS trusts to put measures in place to minimise the number of false fire alarms, while ensuring the safety of patients and staff.”