Fire calls from businesses in Hertfordshire will no longer be answered during working hours unless it is a confirmed emergency, according to a new policy from the Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
The policy takes effect from April 1, and means calls from automatic fire systems from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, will need to be confirmed by a 999 emergency phone call for crews to respond.
This is because the fire service has received a number of false alarms from automatic systems, with fire crews rushing to the scene even though there was no fire.
Chief Fire Officer and Director of Community Protection, Roy Wilsher, said: “Attending false alarm calls not only increases the risk to the public, but also means that equipment and crews aren’t available for genuine emergency calls.
“Obviously we will still respond to genuine emergencies and 999 calls. However this change of policy will mean that we spend less time responding to false alarms and have more time available to deal with fires when they do break out.”
Overnight and weekend automatic calls will still be responded to, when the premises are usually unoccupied, and calls from places containing vulnerable people, such as hospitals and schools, will be unaffected by the policy.
Richard Thake, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said “We are working closely with premises that have repeatedly been the source false alarms to help them understand why that’s happening and to improve their systems.
“We’re hopeful that this new policy will substantially cut the number of false alarms we attend, but if we still find we’re getting a lot false alarms from a particular building we might have to look at charging that business for our time.”
Fire Inspection Officers will continue their work with building planners and owners, to ensure they have fire alarms which work properly and are well maintained.
For further information on the new policy please visit www.hertsdirect.org and search for Fire and Rescue Service.