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We’ve named the buildings in London that most frequently call firefighters out to deal with false alarm calls from automatic systems.*
Over a third of our call outs are to false alarms with hospitals amongst the worst offenders. This equates to a false alarm every 15 minutes in London.
Last January, we began recovering £295 for the tenth false alarm attended at the same site within a twelve month period and for all subsequent false alarm call outs. This has contributed in a yearly reduction of 7.3 per cent but the fire chiefs want to see greater improvement.
We’re focusing on recovering its cost from the worst offenders but also working with building owners to improve the reliability of their automatic fire systems.
The top ten locations for the most false calls in 2014 are
• St Georges Hospital, Tooting 168
• University College Hospital, Euston Rd 75
• The Ridgeway, Enfield (multiple hospitals) 66
• University Hospital Lewisham 62
• St Mungo’s Broadway Camden 60
• Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich 60
• Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead 56
• Homerton University Hospital 49
• St Helier Hospital, Carshalton 49
• Pield Health Road, Uxbridge (multiple hospitals) 44
Neil Orbell, Head of Fire Safety at London Fire Brigade said:
“This is not a money making scheme and the last organisations we want to charge are hospitals. However, we are called to over 30,000 false alarms every year and some hospitals we go to nearly every week.
“We want to work with hospitals on this issue which is why we will wait until the tenth call before we start to recover our costs. We also work with them to see how they can improve the maintenance and management of their automatic fire alarm systems.
“False alarms are a public safety issue as they can cause complacency. When they go off all the time, there can be a tendency for people to ignore them. In the case of a real fire, this could be disastrous. Moreover, they could delay attendances at real emergencies.”
In 2014 a bill of £499,446 has been racked up but over half of the invoices (53 per cent) issued have not been paid with a total of £265,740 still owed to the Brigade.
The Brigade can provide advice on reducing calls to false alarms. An example of recent collaboration was working with Heathrow Airport who have reduced their numbers of calls by around 70% since April 2013.
Notes to Editors:
Last year false alarms from automatic fire alarm systems accounted for 36% (35,286) of the Brigade’s 96,599 incidents attended.
*The false alarms at the hospitals mentioned are those generated by automatic fire alarm systems and fire detection systems.
Fire alarms act as a vital early warning system, helping keep people safe by alerting them to fires and giving them more time to escape. However, the majority of automatic fire alarms are false alarms caused by faulty or badly maintained systems or things like burnt toast, steam or dust.
The Brigade is also concerned that false fire alarms can cause complacency – when they go off all the time, there can be a tendency for people to ignore them, in the case of a real fire, this could be disastrous.
Recovering costs forms one part of the Brigade’s efforts to reduce unwanted call outs and fire chiefs will continue to give advice and guidance to building owners to help them reduce false alarms.