Nearly 60% of fire calls in Aylesbury last year were false alarms

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Nearly 60% of calls to the fire service from Aylesbury were false alarms in 2012, the Bucks Herald can reveal.

Out of the 376 times fire crews were dispatched to Aylesbury addresses last year, 221 incidents were a waste of time. In 23 cases two fire crews were dispatched and three crews were sent to nine false alarms.

Bucks Fire and Rescue Service estimates the cost for the attendance of a fire truck and crew at £375 per hour, putting the total false alarm cost in Aylesbury last year at £98,250. However, the service says as the crews are already working the only real cost is the diesel used and vehicle wear and tear.

The major cause of false alarms was electrical faults, where fire systems are set off when a detector reacts to something. Out of the false alarms, 130 fell in this area.

There were also 12 malicious calls, where someone calls to report a fire when they know there isn’t one.

Bucks fire service’s unwanted fire signals officer Malcolm Brightman said: “The fire service, ambulance service, police and courts take a very dim view of this type of behaviour and it is something we all want to see ended.”

Good intent calls, where someone thinks there is a fire but it turns out there is not, were made 79 times for Aylesbury addresses.

So far in 2013 the service has been called out to 234 false alarms across Bucks, 34 of which have been in the Aylesbury area. Crews have been dispatched six times to false alarms at Kingswood’s Cook and Fillet restaurant and farm shop, while the Waterside theatre and Stoke Mandeville Hospital have both had two.

Nationally, 53% of fire calls were false alarms in 2011/12.

The fire service can charge non-domestic premises which regularly make false alarm calls at the £375 per hour rate and works closely with those suffering repeat incidents.

Mr Brightman said: “The true cost of commercial false alarms is they cause disruption to the premises where they are happening, can interfere with training and community safety work firefighters carry out when they are not attending emergency incidents and mean we may have to bring in emergency service vehicles from further afield in the event of another incident occurring in the same area at the same time.”