Fire brigade warning about false alarms

Offices, factories, shops and other businesses which regularly have false alarms, could find that Cleveland Fire Brigade will be recovering the costs of call-out.

The move follows extensive consultation and is set to be rolled out from April 1.

95% of respondents to the consultation agreed there should be costs for repeat alarms and 98% of businesses agreed they had a responsibility for maintaining fire detection and alarm systems.

Since April 2019 the brigade has been called out to just over 700 false alarms, costing around £241,000. A cost of £345 will be recovered on a fifth false alarm over a 12-month rolling period and any further false alarms will also be charged. Any costs recovered will be used to support fire safety and prevention activities.

Joe Flounders, head of protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “The introduction of the cost recovery policy will encourage businesses to manage their fire alarm systems appropriately in order to reduce the number of false alarms they generate, ensuring their time and resources are focused on productivity. This enables the brigade to recover costs where we have committed resources which, had the call not been received, would have been available for other real emergencies or community safety activities.

“People ignore persistent false alarms putting themselves and businesses at risk. It is our aim through the introduction of this policy that businesses ensure their fire warning and detection systems are installed, maintained and managed appropriately. By reducing the number of false alarms our local communities will be better protected.”

Legislation introduced in 2012 allows fire and rescue authorities in England to levy a charge where there is a report of fire in the following circumstances:

• There is a report of a fire
• The premises are not domestic premises
• The report is false
• The report is made as a direct or indirect result of warning equipment having malfunctioned or been miss-installed
• There is a persistent problem

This policy is in line with other fire and rescue services policies across the country.