South Yorkshire: False alarm calls are halved

False alarms in South Yorkshire have halved after the fire service worked with businesses, schools and hospitals to dramatically reduce unnecessary call outs.

A third of the calls South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue receives turn out to be false alarms, with many of these automated fire alarms in business premises caused by faulty fire detection equipment, people setting alarms off by accident, or failure of building managers to investigate the actuations and back-up automated alarms with a 999 call to confirm there is definitely a fire.

But by working closely with site managers at buildings with previously high numbers of false alarms, unnecessary call outs fell from 4,329 in 2005, to 2,108 in 2013.

In 2005 South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue introduced an ‘automated fire alarm’ policy, making regular contact with premises with high numbers of false alarms.

Specialist officers offer advice to site managers on reducing unnecessary call outs. In extreme cases, the fire service can seek to prosecute repeat offenders under fire safety legislation.

Fire safety manager at the hospital, David Butler, said: “We’ve really taken matters into our own hands in terms of reducing false alarms.”

“By introducing comprehensive fire detection systems throughout all of our premises, through extensive training for all our staff and by carrying out our own preliminary investigations when an automatic alarm is generated, we’ve shown that by tackling the issue head on, premises can make a big impact on the reduction of unwanted fire signals.”

Technical fire safety officer Roger Brason, said: “False alarms at commercial premises and large public buildings like schools and hospitals have been in steady decline for several years now.”

To reduce false alarms, businesses should check their alarm systems regularly and train staff properly on what to do if an alarm sounds.