North Yorkshire firefighters called out to thousands of false alarms last year

Home Office figures show the fire and rescue service responded to 3,474 callouts in 2018-19 which proved to be false alarms.
Home Office figures show the fire and rescue service responded to 3,474 callouts in 2018-19 which proved to be false alarms.

The North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service responded to thousands of false alarms last year, figures reveal.

The Fire Brigades Union says false alarms use up resources and increase response times to real emergencies, but that “it is always better to be safe than sorry”.

Home Office figures show the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service responded to 3,474 callouts in 2018-19 which proved to be false alarms.

Of these, more than two-thirds (68%) were caused by fire alarms and other firefighting apparatus. This includes people accidentally setting off fire alarms, or when an alarm is triggered and a person is required to call the fire brigade as part of protocol, such as security guards.

A further 29% were calls made in good faith, where the caller believed that a fire, or non-fire incident such as a road accident or medical problem, was an emergency requiring the fire service.

There were also 102 malicious false alarms, where a person deliberately called the fire service to a non-existent incident.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “False alarms, including malicious alarms, use up resources which could be better served elsewhere and increase response times to actual emergencies.

“But it is always better to be safe than sorry, and fire services should always be called when any alarm is raised.

“The latest Government figures confirm what firefighters are feeling on the ground – they are under increasing pressure, responding to more incidents with scarcer resources, as budgets and firefighters continue to be cut.”

In North Yorkshire, officers spent at least 521 hours at the scene of false alarms last year. Most incidents were attended by a crew of between four and nine people.

A spokesperson said: “It is for local fire and rescue authorities to determine how they deal with false alarms.

“The National Fire Chiefs Council has provided authorities with guidance, including how best to support those responsible for maintaining automatic alarm systems.”