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How The Emergency Services Are Impacted By False Alarms

It’s a disturbing fact, but over one third of all incidents that the West Midlands Fire Service were called to attend in 2020, turned out to be false alarms.

According to Home Office figures, the majority of these unnecessary call-outs were attributed to either faulty equipment or accidental activation of the alarm system.

As many as 405 cases – that’s over one a day - were described as ‘malicious’, resulting either from hoax calls or people deliberately setting off an alarm. The remainder were put down to genuine mistakes.

Out of the total number of false alarms, one in five were caused by smoke alarm systems.

Worryingly, figures show that between 2017 and 2020, there has been a year-on-year increase in the number of avoidable ‘shouts’ that the West Midlands Fire Service has had to deal with.

Meanwhile, the equivalent Home Office stats for the neighbouring Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, were in line with the West Midlands data, suggesting a consistent pattern of activity.

Steve Vincent, the West Midlands Fire Service area commander, said that responding to false fire alarms diverted crews away from genuine emergencies, prevention and protection work, as well as from essential training.

“It increases the risk to the public and our firefighters as they respond on blue lights to provide a timely response,” he explained, adding that the Service’s business support officers were working closely with businesses throughout the West Midlands, in a bid to reduce the disruption caused by false alarms, ensuring firefighters were able to attend genuine emergencies.

Will I get charged by the Emergency Services if they are called to a false alarm?

Although West Midlands don’t charge for false alarms, the approach taken by the London Fire Brigade could be an indication of what could happen in future. There, they’ve announced that businesses will be charged if firefighters are falsely called out to the same address on more than 10 occasions.

According to The London Fire Brigade, hospitals are amongst the worst offenders – they would have totted up fines of over half a million pounds if the charges had already been implemented.

What can businesses and homeowners do to avoid false alarms?

False alarms can be caused by poor fire alarm maintenance, often because the equipment isn’t being tested and checked regularly.

The best advice we can give is to ensure that your fire and security alarms are frequently maintained. The majority of our customers have an annual service agreement in place, to ensure that the equipment is reliable and doesn’t suffer an unwanted activation, thus responding only when required.

As a National Security Inspectorate (NSI) gold accredited company, Justice Fire and Security has decades of experience in installing and maintaining fire safety systems and fire extinguishers, intruder alarms, CCTV, emergency lighting and more besides. This is all essential kit to keep your commercial or domestic premises safe that relies on being professionally maintained, to ensure it is permanently in good working order – thereby avoiding any false alarms.

We will check that your fire detection and safety systems work in accordance with the most stringent British Safety standards, ensuring all the components fully comply with the current legislation.

How to Prevent False Alarms due to Faulty Fire and Security Alarms

Nobody benefits if the emergency services are called out to a false alarm – whether you are the homeowner, business owner or part of the professional team sent out to attend the incident.

And although no one can provide a 100% guarantee that a fire alarm or security system won’t be wrongly activated at some point in its life, with proper maintenance, unwanted incidents should become a rarity.

The last thing you would want is to create a history of false alarms, whereby you find yourself in a situation in which the emergency services either don’t attend or don’t arrive in time to prevent a genuine incident escalating into something far more serious.

If you are concerned about the number of false alarms being generated from your fire or intruder alarm at your business premises or residential property, please call our main switchboard today on 0845 468 0927.

We cover a comprehensive 50-mile radius covering the West Midlands and East Midlands including Wolverhampton, Stoke, Worcester, Coventry, Lichfield and Stafford.