South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue ditches automatic visits to business alarms

By Gareth Dennison | 03/12/2019

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue ditches automatic visits to business alarms

FIREFIGHTERS will no longer automatically attend fire alarms in commercial buildings — freeing up hundreds of hours a year.

Some 97 per cent of the 3,457 visits South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue made in the past three years turned out to be false alarms.

Crews wasted more than 1,000 hours investigating the cause of these alarms, which the services says could be better spent on training or community work.

Now firefighters will only attend offices, warehouses and other commercial premises when a blaze has been confirmed.

SYFR area manager Andy Strelczenie said: “False alarms make up a massive proportion of the incidents firefighters are mobilised to. 

“While we will always attend incidents when our services are definitely required, our frequent attendance at false alarms disrupts training and increases road risk to firefighters rushing on blue lights to incidents which later turn out to be false alarms.”

The change — agreed by the regional fire authority in June — brings SYFR in line with other services around the country and the position of the National Fire Chiefs Council. 

It will come into force on January 6 but does not apply to sleeping risk premises like universities, hotels, hospitals or high rise flats.

Mr Strelczenie added: “It’s long been the responsibility of businesses to ensure their alarm systems are regularly checked and maintained properly and it’s important they do this before the change we’ve outlined comes into force.”

Top safety tips for businesses include:

  • Keep fire escapes clear — make sure extra stock is stored away from fire escapes, ensuring staff and customers can get out safely in the event of a fire
  • Check alarm systems — regular checks and maintenance help to eliminate automatic false alarms and ensure the alarm is working if required
  • Complete a fire risk assessment — not only will it help to reduce the risk of suffering a fire in the first place, it will help make sure you comply with fire safety laws
  • Consider installing sprinklers — but make sure you leave a good distance between your stock and sprinkler heads

For more information and safety tips, visit syfire.gov.uk/business-advice.


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