Drive to reduce false alarms

Cleveland Fire Brigade (CFB) will no longer respond to automatic alarms during office hours in a bid to reduce time-wasting call-outs and getting businesses to ensure their systems are working properly.

The move, in line with other fire and rescue services across the country, comes with latest figures showing the Brigade attended nearly 600 automatic alarms in 2015/16 between 8am and 5pm – and only 12 were fires.

These changes do not affect houses, flats and other residential premises and do not put the public at risk. Most recent figures show that Cleveland Fire Brigade is one of the top performing Brigades in the country with the fastest response to building fires.

From Monday, 2 October, appliances will only be sent when there is evidence of a real fire rather than business alarms being accidentally activated through cigarette smoke, cooking fumes, dust or other minor causes.

This applies to commercial premises, schools, public buildings and leisure complexes. During the day when these premises are staffed confirmation of a fire must be received through a 999 call.

Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade said: “This approach puts the onus back on businesses to get their alarms properly maintained and help them reduce their own costs.

“Everytime they have to evacuate the building because the alarm has gone off can be hugely wasteful in terms of lost production and staff time. Sometimes this can all be down to something as simple as someone burning their toast or smoking too close to the alarm system.

“In these situations there is absolutely no reason for the fire service to be called out. Our new policy will mean crews are not detracted from real emergencies where lives could be at risk.

“We provide help, support and advice to businesses and other premises through fire safety audits where their systems and procedures can be thoroughly checked. These are carried out regularly but are also available on request.”

Cleveland Fire Brigade will still attend automatic fire alarms outside office hours, weekends and Bank Holidays when fewer people are at work and there is a higher risk of alarm activation signalling a real fire.

  • Between 0800 and 1700 Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays)  CFB will not attend automatic fire alarms to low and medium risk premises unless a confirmation of fire is received via 999
  • These include businesses, schools, public buildings and leisure complexes and residential care homes
  • CFB will attend high risk properties between 0800 and 1700. These include chemical sites and places with a “sleeping risk” such as – hospitals.
  • Special risk properties – heritage sites such as Ormesby Hall, Preston Park Hall and Wynyard Hall are exempt from the new policy.