Concern raised after Notts firefighters attended thousands of false alarms last year

Notts firefighters attended more false alarms than in the last five years.
Notts firefighters attended more false alarms than in the last five years.

The number of false alarms attended by the Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has reached its highest level in five years, with thousands of incidents recorded.

Home Office figures show the Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service responded to 4,485 callouts in 2018-19 which proved to be false alarms.

This was the highest number for five years – and 84 more than in 2017-18.

Seven in 10 false alarms attended last year (70 per cent) 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 26 per cent 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 144 malicious false alarms, where a person deliberately called the fire service to a non-existent incident.

But a spokesman for Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service said crews actually saw a decrease in the number of malicious calls, and that it has protocols in place to cut down on the number of false alarms.

A statement said: "The increase in incidents can largely be attributed to the long dry spell we experienced during the summer last year which saw the amount of secondary fires, which include grass and moorland fires, increase significantly compared with last year (an increase from 1,651 to 2,427).

"There was a slight increase in false alarms attended (a rise of 84). Of these the largest increase came from false alarms raised with a good intent whilst malicious false alarm calls and automatic fire alarm responses decreased.

"The introduction of the Tri-Service Automatic Fire Alarm procedure in December last year is expected to reduce the amount of false alarms attended by firefighters."

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".

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.

"We are deeply concerned that, after massive cuts to fire safety officers, and years of deregulation, there has been a significant increase in fires in England.

This makes it more crucial still that fire alarms are treated seriously."

In Nottinghamshire, officers spent at least 1,527 hours at the scene of false alarms last year. Most incidents were attended by a crew of between four and nine people.