16 Apr 2013
County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service has stopped responding to every automatic fire alarm call-out at low risk properties.
Firefighters now only follow up such problems during office hours if there is a phone call confirming that there is a fire.
It is part of attempts to cut down the number of false fire alarm calls.
During 2012 the service attended 1,036 false alarm calls, which was 14.7% of the total number of call-outs.
Firefighters no longer attend the call-outs between Monday and Friday, 9am-5pm, unless there is confirmation that assistance is needed.
Most low-risk commercial properties, such as offices, shops and sports centres, have staff that are able to examine whether a fire has started or whether the alarm has been set off for other reasons.
Community prevention and protection manager Steve Chicken explained that the new approach will not increase risks for commercial premises, pointing out that less than 1% of calls during these times are for actual fires.
He added: “We will also continue to respond to ‘high risk’, ‘sleeping risk’, ‘heritage risk’, ‘special risks’ or domestic properties as we currently do.”
Copyright Press Association 2013