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Firefighters deal with more false alarms than fires, statistics show

PUBLISHED: 16:03 05 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:03 05 November 2019

Essex Fire and Rescue Service reported almost exactly the same figures last year, showing that just as many false alarms were responded to. Picture: ECFRS

Essex Fire and Rescue Service reported almost exactly the same figures last year, showing that just as many false alarms were responded to. Picture: ECFRS

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Firefighters in Essex are called to more false alarms than they are fires - prompting calls to members of the public to help it reduce unnecessary call outs.

More than a third of incidents responded to by Essex Fire and Rescue Service were false alarms, more than there were actual fires. Picture: NICK BUTCHERMore than a third of incidents responded to by Essex Fire and Rescue Service were false alarms, more than there were actual fires. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service dealt with 15,513 incidents between 2018 and 2019.

However more than a third of those incidents were false alarms.

The total number of fires in the county was 4,937, whilst the total number of false alarms was 6,292.

Moira Bruin, director of operations, prevention, protection and response for the fire service, said: "The most common reason we are called out to false alarms is when people genuinely believe there is an emergency.

"This could include bonfires burning under control and road traffic collisions where no-one is trapped.

"The next most common reason for us to be called to a false alarm is due to faulty apparatus, which often includes automatic fire alarm systems.

"These false alarms are the easiest to reduce.

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"The systems usually sound because of cooking, steam, smoking or dust caused by building work, but still require a full emergency response from fire crews.

"Although accidental, they still have an impact on both the business and our crews."

The report for 2017 and 2018 showed that this year has seen a 0.6% decrease in the number of false alarms and a 3% increase in the number of fires responded to.

This Fire and Rescue Statement and Annual Report has covered the first full year since the service switched to a joint governance with Essex Police.

Overall there has been a 0.6% decrease in the number of incidents that the fire service responded to.

Ms Bruin added: "Simple behaviour changes are all that's needed to reduce these false alarms, which is why we work to educate people to understand what small changes can be taken.

"I would encourage anyone who has an automatic fire alarm system at their business to take time to understand why they might unnecessarily activate and how they can stop this."

Jo Turton, chief fire officer and chief executive, said: "For me, this report is testament to the brilliant people we have working for our service.

"I find that sometimes people can be surprised that our role as a fire and rescue service is more than simply putting our fires."

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