Firefighters attended more false alarms than fires

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 November 2018

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Fire engine

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Firefighters in Somerset and Devon spend more time dealing with false alarms than real fires.

In the past year firefighters across the two counties attended 1,000 more false alarm incidents than commercial or domestic fires.

Firefighters on average responded to a false alarm once every three days – though few calls were deemed malicious.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service will continue to provide training and support to communities in order to reduce incidents.

A report which was submitted to the fire authority’s audit and performance committee on false alarms revealed that between October 2017 and September, crews attended 19,044 incidents across the force area.

However, only 4,566 of these incidents were fires. Over the same period firefighters dealt with 5,913 false alarms, and more than 4,000 were caused by automatic alarms in businesses.

More than 1,700 false alarms were raised with ‘good intent’ with those calling believing there was an emergency, but that the fire service ultimately did not need to attend.

Just 126, under five per cent, of the false alarm incidents were deemed malicious, with firefighters being called deliberately to a nonexistent fire.

The remaining 8,565 incidents attended by the fire service over the period were ‘special services’ which include traffic accidents, flooding, rescuing animals, and people stuck in high places.

A spokesman for the fire service said: “We are committed to eradicating false or unwanted alarms thus reducing the number of unwanted mobilisations. Unfortunately we respond to thousands of such alarms each year.

“Any emergency response to a false alarm poses a risk to the community.

“We are committed to providing community safety advice, education and intervention to keep communities safe.”

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