Fewer fire engines will be dispatched to call-outs by automated smoke detectors in a bid to ensure crews are available for ‘genuine emergencies’.
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service implemented the new policy in a bid to reduce the cost of attending false alarms created by automated systems.
The fire service said it will cut the number of crews it sends to automated fire alarms at domestic properties during daylight hours unless an actual fire is confirmed.
It will also seek to recover costs from the owners of non-domestic premises if call-outs repeatedly result in false alarms.
A spokesperson for Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said: “These unnecessary call outs result in an increase in ‘blue light’ journeys that waste money and increase risk to the public and our crews through the delayed response to genuine emergencies.
“A reduction in false alarms will allow service appliances to be available for genuine emergencies and release essential resources for more training; as well as allowing more preventative and protection activities within the community to take place.
“Users of these automatic fire alarm systems also lose confidence in their ability to protect their properties from fire and repeated false alarms risk complacency amongst the users of buildings.”
Between April 2010 and March 2011, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service attended 18,552 calls to incidents. 4339 of these calls were to Automatic Fire Alarm (AFA) systems, and while 223 proved to be fires, 4090 (94%) were false alarms as the premises concerned had poor performing fire alarm systems.
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority approved the implementation of a new Automatic Fire Alarm policy on Friday, February 17.
The policy is designed to reduce the impact of unwanted calls generated from automatic fire detection systems on service delivery, business and commerce and to support the safety of the community.
As from the 1 April 2012, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service will be implementing two new initiatives to reduce the number of false alarm calls it receives:
1. To reduce the amount of fire appliances sent to domestic properties fire alarms (smoke detectors) between the hours of 8.00am to 6.00pm, seven days a week unless a fire is confirmed.
2. With non-domestic premises to recover costs from the responsible person for our attendance when there is a persistent problem with false reports of fire, which are directly or indirectly caused by warning equipment under common control having malfunctioned or been misinstalled. Cost recovery would follow a staged approach where the service will seek to work with those responsible.