Fire service push to reduce false alarms

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The fire service has stressed it is working tirelessly to drive down the number of false alarm calls across Bucks.

The Bucks Herald reported last week how nearly 60% of calls from Aylesbury addresses in 2012 were false alarms.

Although the figure remains higher than desired, Bucks Fire and Rescue Service has spent years working to reduce false alarm calls and has received national recognition for its success.

The biggest proportion of unwanted calls are electrical false alarms, where automatic fire systems in factories, hospitals and other commercial buildings are set off because the detector reacts to steam, cooking fumes, dust or even insects. Of the 221 false alarms in Aylesbury in 2012, 130 fell in this category. So far this year there have been six false alarms at Kingswood’s Cook and Fillet restaurant and farm shop and two each at the Waterside theatre and Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Bucks fire service’s unwanted fire signals officer, Malcolm Brightman, said: “We work closely will all the organisations whose automatic fire alarms activate when there is in fact no fire.

“Sometimes it’s a simple matter of making sure detector heads are positioned away from sources of steam and cooking fumes, or that smoke detectors are replaced with heat detectors.”

Mr Brightman has been at the centre of reducing electrical false alarms for the past few years. Between April 2006 and March 2007 there were 2,474 of these calls across Bucks. This figure now stands at around 1,200 a year.

To mark this, Mr Brightman has recently been awarded the Fire Industry Association chairman’s award for outstanding achievement in false alarm reduction.

The fire service has the power to charge non-domestic premises which persistently call it to false alarms at a rate of £375 per hour, although Bucks fire and rescue service does not currently do this.

Of the 221 false alarms in Aylesbury last year, 12 were malicious calls, where someone reports a fire when they know there isn’t one, and 79 were good intent calls where people think there is a fire but are mistaken.