Two Weeks Left Until Consultation Closes
Around a third of the 8,000 callouts the Service receives each year are to AFAs, and crews lose an estimated 4,000 hours attending these false alarms.
False alarms caused by AFAs also divert essential services from real emergencies, potentially putting life and property at risk. Furthermore, they present an unnecessary risk to crews and the public whilst responding under blue-lights and they divert time away from firefighter training, community fire safety and other education work. They are also a drain on public finances.
Area Commander George Sherry from H&WFRS explained: "With these factors in mind, it was essential that we carried out a review and implement changes in the way we respond to AFAs –particularly in the current economic climate where public resources are stretched."
"It simply isn't sensible for us to commit so many resources to automatic fire alarm calls. To think that we attend around 3,000 calls a year where no firefighting action is required is actually quite staggering - but we will always respond when we are needed."
He offered reassurance that the Service will continue to attend AFAs at premises where there may be a high risk to life, such as dwellings, schools, residential care and other residential premises. For hospitals and non-residential premises, including offices, shops, factories and warehouses, where there is less of a risk, the Service will attend once a '999' call confirms the nature of the incident. Instead of automatically sending fire appliances to AFAs, Fire Control Operators will in future ask a series of questions to establish if there is a fire – or if the AFA was simply triggered accidentally.
Area Commander Sherry stressed that if there's any doubt as to whether members of the community may be at risk, the Service would always attend.
H&WFRS has been working closely with key organisations to make sure everyone understands their responsibilities and role in bringing down the number of false alarms the Service attends.
The consultation closes on Friday, November 11, 2011. The Service would like to receive consultation responses from any organisation in Herefordshire or Worcestershire with an Automatic Fire Alarm system.