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False fire alarm alerts at commercial properties in Havering cost more than £530,000 last year

PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 October 2018 | UPDATED: 09:10 24 October 2018

There were 1,012 automatic fire alarm (AFA) incidents, which turned out to false alarms at businesses, care homes and hospitals in Havering in 2017. Picture: Ken Mears

There were 1,012 automatic fire alarm (AFA) incidents, which turned out to false alarms at businesses, care homes and hospitals in Havering in 2017. Picture: Ken Mears

Archant

Firefighters were called to more than 1,000 incidents of false fire alarms at commercial properties in Havering last year.

There were 1,012 automatic fire alarm (AFA) incidents, which turned out to false alarms at businesses, care homes and hospitals in Havering in 2017.

The estimated cost, based on the length of time rounded up to the nearest hour spent by pump, is £537,166 for the London Fire Brigade (LFB) to respond to these incidents.

According to an FOI request, firefighters only attended 594 fires in that year, almost a third of the number of AFA incidents.

A London Fire Brigade spokesman said: “Automatic fire alarms are in commercial premises and they’re often either defective or they’ve been placed badly. They go off accidentally and we get called out to them.

“We have done a lot of work trying to reduce them because the fewer we go to, the more available we are to go to emergencies.”

Under the existing rules, the LFB is entitled to make a charge to recover costs of attending persistent false alarm calls from automatic fire alarm systems and fire detection systems.

Business owners are advised to make maintenance a top priority and if they do experience a false alarm, to identify the reason for it and then take action to minimise the chance of it happening again.

“Although we have the availability to charge, and we did previously with businesses, we now do a lot of work with businesses to make sure that their alarms are fit for purpose,” said the LFB spokesman.

“We always attend 999 calls to fire alarms going off, but we would ask for people to maintain them correctly and help us reduce the number we go to.

“[The financial figures] shows how much it costs to send a fire engine to an incident.”

This year, the LFB has been called to 825 AFA incidents at commercial properties, however this number refers to data recorded up until October 16.

The LFB responded to a total of 38,000 false alarms in 2017 which amounts to 104 calls a day.

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