Fire service's new policy on alarm calls
By Roddy AshworthTHE way in which a fire service responds to automatic fire alarms is to change today after statistics showed less than one in 100 calls actually required emergency crews to attend.
By Roddy Ashworth
THE way in which a fire service responds to automatic fire alarms is to change today after statistics showed less than one in 100 calls actually required emergency crews to attend.
Essex fire service responded to 6,417 calls from automatic alarms over a 12-month period, sending about 20,000 engines out on emergency calls.
But only 60 of these calls actually led to firefighters tackling a blaze. The rest of the alarms were either false or the result of small fires that had already been put out or had gone out of their own accord.
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Now the fire service has, in a move designed to cut the number of unnecessary turnouts by at least half, changed its policy on sending a full emergency response to each and every incident.
As from today, control room staff will be given authority to change the number of fire engines sent to an incident and to decide whether they should deploy blue lights.
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This would mean that, in a situation where an automatic fire alarm has been activated, but someone on the premises confirms there was no fire, a single engine would be sent at normal road speed to check the situation.
Essex Chief Fire Officer David Turner said there were a number of reasons for making the change to the number of vehicles sent, including:
n fire appliances can be made unavailable or delayed for genuine calls
n there is an unnecessary risk to fire crews and the public when fire engines respond to calls with blue lights
n they cost businesses money, causing buildings to be evacuated and production to be reduced
n they are disruptive to fire service work routines, particularly to community fire safety activity and training
n they affect employers who release retained staff for operational duties.
Mr Furner added: "We have seen lots of changes in Essex fire service recently and all are aimed at making our communities safer.
"This change will be good news for everybody, keeping more fire engines available to attend life-threatening incidents, improving the productivity of businesses and keeping the roads of Essex safer."