Scottish Fire and Rescue Service look to reduce 'unwanted call outs' in Falkirk area

A public consultation has been launched on Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) proposals to change its response to automatic work place alarms in Falkirk and the rest of the country.

By James Trimble
Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 11:02 am
Updated Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 11:02 am

They result in thousands of call outs every year – but only two per cent of them actually result in a fire.

The potential options for responding to AFAs are outlined in a consultation document entitled Time for Change: Reducing Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals and the public is being encouraged to take part and give their views.

Options being looked at include one where operations control staff will call challenge AFAs from non-domestic premises. No response will be mobilised, if questioning through call challenge confirms there is no fire, or signs of one.

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Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has launched a public consultation regarding the way it will respond to automatic workplace alarms in the future

Another being considered is non-attendance to AFAs from non-domestic premises, with control staff advising the caller the fire service will not attend unless a back-up 999 call confirming fire, or signs of fire is received.

The 12-week consultation will seek views on three proposed options, which have been developed to allow the SFRS to use its resources more effectively.

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Chief Officer Martin Blunden said: “We undertake in the region of 57,000 unnecessary blue light journeys every year responding to workplace AFAs that turn out to be false alarms.

"This brings risks to our crews, other road users and pedestrians as well as having an impact on the environment with an estimated 575 tonnes of carbon emissions produced.

“In almost all cases they are false alarms and only two per-cent result in fires, many of which are often extinguished before we arrive. In changing our response to these calls, we can use SFRS resources more effectively, including further improving our response to genuine emergencies.

"We can also use this time for more training and fire prevention activity, as well as realising the knock-on benefits of improving road safety and reducing our carbon impact.

“It will also mean less disruption to businesses as they no longer need to wait for us to attend to give the all clear after an AFA.

“There is no change to how we respond to AFAs that are confirmed fires or from private homes, this consultation is about changing our response to workplace AFAs only.”

The consultation brings the SFRS into line with how the majority of UK fire and rescue services respond to workplace AFAs.

Chief Officer Blunden said: “The legal responsibility for dealing with an AFA alert lies with the duty holder of a property and most UK fire and rescue services now seek confirmation of a fire before attending.

“Current SFRS practice means every AFA has an average response of two fire appliances involving at least nine firefighters. Each call takes on average 15 minutes and workplaces and businesses face disruption while firefighters enter the building to confirm on ninety-eight per cent of occasions there is in fact no fire.

“If we can change how we respond to these alerts potentially 64,000 hours of staff time can be freed up for other activities, including responding even more quickly to genuine emergencies."

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