False alarms start to fall across South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue's Roger Brason
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue's Roger Brason

False alarms to the fire brigade have halved in South Yorkshire – because of businesses, schools and hospitals working to reduce unnecessary call-outs.

A third of all calls to South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service turn out to be false alarms, with many down to 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 activations.

But by working 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.

Fire chiefs say false alarms take fire engines out of action.

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

“The success of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals in reducing their call-outs is just one example of how hard work to reduce false alarms can really pay off, keeping fire engines available for genuine emergencies.”

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals has been one of the most successful organisations in South Yorkshire at reducing false alarms.

In 1989 engines were sent to the Northern General Hospital 89 times in 2005 – but there were no false alarms last year.

Fire safety manager David Butler said: “We’ve really taken matters into our own hands.

“By introducing comprehensive fire detection systems throughout our premises, extensive training for all staff and 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.”