Drop in false alarm call-outs saves Northamptonshire Fire Service thousands of pounds

Northamptonshire Fire Service has cut the number of false call-outs it receives.
Northamptonshire Fire Service has cut the number of false call-outs it receives.

Reduction in fire service call-outs to false alarms has saved thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service says it has managed to cut its call-outs to false alarms by 66 per cent over the last seven years – with a potential saving of up to £2,392,200 per year.

In 2008/09, the fire service went out to 2,741 unwanted fire signals, which happen when an alarm is activated, and then automatically calls the fire service even though there is no fire.

The fire service reviewed its policies and decided not to respond to every automatic fire alarm.

The new policy has seen the number of false call-outs drop to 969 in 2014/15 – bringing the level of unnecessary call-outs below 1,000 a year for the first time.

In 2008 the fire service said each false alarm call-out cost between £450 and £1,350.

That means the reduction in call-outs has saved between £797,000 and £2,392,200 per year.

Cllr André Gonzalez de Savage, county council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, economic growth and public protection, said: “Unwanted fire signals used to account for about 30 per cent of all incidents Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service attended and these unnecessary call-outs have a serious impact as they divert firefighters from genuine emergencies.

“There is also the potential for the alarm system to lose credibility, as there’s a risk people can become complacent in the event of a real fire and ignore the alarm, and these unnecessary call-outs cost taxpayers money.

“The fire service has done a fantastic job in reducing the number of unwanted fire signals to below 1,000 a year for the first time ever and this leaves our firefighters free to respond to genuine, potentially life-saving incidents.

“The reduction in unwanted fire signals has also reduced the number of occasions that a fire engine is driven on blue lights through our county’s roads, thereby cutting the road risk to our firefighters and the public.”

The only times Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue will respond to an automatic fire alarm is if they are at domestic premises, care or nursing homes, blocks of flats, boarding schools, and hospitals.

They will also respond if a sprinkler has been activated or if the premises has been identified as at special risk.

Offices, shops, factories and public buildings will only receive a call-out once someone at the premises has confirmed there is a fire.

Similar policies have also been introduced by a large number of other fire and rescue services across the UK.