Hertfordshire firefighters to respond differently to automatic alarms

16:44 25 March 2014

Archant

Firefighters will respond differently to automatic fire alarms from next week.

Starting on Tuesday, April 1, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service will not respond to automatic fire alarm systems in business premises between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, unless a fire is confirmed by a 999 call.

The change is the result of an ongoing concern with the large number of false alarms from automatic systems which in the past have seen fire engines visiting buildings when there was no fire.

Chief fire officer and director of community protection Roy Wilsher said: “Attending false alarm calls not only increases the risk to the public, with fire engines driving on blue lights for no good reason, but also means that equipment and crews aren’t available for genuine emergency calls.

“Obviously we will still respond to genuine emergencies and 999 calls. However this change of policy will mean that we spend less time responding to false alarms and more time available to deal with fires when they do break out.”

The fire service will continue to respond to automatic alarms overnight and at weekends, when premises are typically unoccupied. Alarms from premises which contain vulnerable people such as hospitals, hostels, care homes and schools are not affected by this new policy.

Richard Thake, cabinet member for community safety at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “False alarms don’t do business owners any favours either. We are working closely with premises that have repeatedly been the source false alarms to help them understand why that’s happening and to improve their systems.

“We’re hopeful that this new policy will substantially cut the number of false alarms we attend, but if we still find we’re getting a lot false alarms from a particular building we might have to look at charging that business for our time.”

Fire inspection officers will continue to work with building planners and owners to ensure that suitable alarm systems are fitted and that they are properly maintained and working.

For more information on the new policy visit www.hertsdirect.org and search for ‘fire and rescue service’.

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