Fire service could soon charge businesses for false alarms

Fire Service.Generic Fire engine and Fire service officers for Scarborough.Picture Richard Ponter 132217c
Fire Service.Generic Fire engine and Fire service officers for Scarborough.Picture Richard Ponter 132217c

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service could soon charge businesses for attending false alarms depending on the outcome of a consultation.

The consultation launched this week, follows the introduction of government legislation which allows fire authorities to charge for attending automatic false alarms at business premises where the call is found to be false, is the result of incorrectly installed or malfunctioning equipment or where there is a persistent problem.

Craig McIntosh, assistant chief fire officer, said: “I hope that businesses will take part in the consultation and give us their honest view. It is important to understand that the charge would only be levied in specific circumstances and for business premises only, not false calls to people’s homes, and it would only apply if the automatic alarm was repeatedly and falsely calling us out due to there being a malfunction or an incorrect installation. We would welcome the opinion of organisations throughout the county.”

He said the service was committed to making West Yorkshire safer and recognises that repeatedly attending calls to false alarms means that it is unable to attend real emergencies.

Figures show there has been a reduction in the number of false alarm calls in recent years. On average, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service attends over 5,000 calls to commercial premises each year as a result of a fire alarm activation - 98.7 per cent of these calls turn out to be a false alarm.

The charge for a false call would be determined by the consultation, but may be based on the fire service’s special service call rate which is currently £350 excluding VAT per hour per fire appliance.

Invitations to take part in the two-month consultation will be sent to businesses across the county. If you would like to take part visit www.surveymonkey.com