Service under fire for plans to ignore alarms

PUBLISHED: 13:00 04 January 2012



PROPOSALS by Devon & Somerset Fire Service to stop sending engines to automatic fire alarms have been slammed by the Fire Brigades Union.

The service has revealed plans to stop responding to automatic alarms at businesses during the daytime because it claims 94 per cent of such call outs are false alarms.

The service covers Somerset including Burnham, Cheddar, Axbridge and Highbridge.

Tan McFarlane, regional official for the Fire Brigade’s Union South West, said: “We are violently opposed to it. Fire alarms are there to protect premises. I think it sends out entirely the wrong message.

“If you suspect a fire in your premises, you should get out until the fire engine arrives.

“The only reason I can think of is that it’s a cost-saving measure, and if so it is putting cost-cutting ahead of saving lives.

“It’s unprofessional and dangerous. To send no response at all is a step too far.”

Phil Martin, area manager for Devon & Somerset fire said: “The fact remains that 94 per cent of the automatic fire alarms we currently attend turn out to be false alarms.

“This wastes a huge amount of firefighters’ time and money that could be better spent doing other things.

“Fire crews could also be delayed at a false alarm when there is a real emergency happening elsewhere.”

To give the service your views, email

The consultation period ends today (Weds), with a decision expected to be announced on February 17.

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