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This article was reproduced with the kind permission
of the British Broadcasting Corporation



Friday, 2 November 2007, 12:59 GMT
Business fire alerts mostly false

Fire crews will no longer automatically respond to alarms at business premises in Surrey under plans to reduce the number of false calls attended.

The county's fire and rescue service said it came down to the fact that firefighters only put out a fire at one in 200 fire alarm call-outs at firms.

Spokesman Simon Moore said there needed to be "intelligent attendance" based on confirmation of an actual fire.

A business spokesperson agreed the level of false call-outs was too high.

Mr Moore said time and manpower was being wasted, meaning work at other incidents such as road crashes, or on fire safety education, was potentially being affected.

If there's any doubt we'll respond as we do today
Simon Moore

He said: "Our policy is not about not attending, it's seeking to get sufficient information to make an intelligent attendance.

"We would like the occupier to have procedures in place to make a check, while taking no risks, to identify positive signs of fire... such as two devices being activated.

"If we're told that then we'll treat it as a fire. If there's any doubt we'll respond as we do today.

"But if it's a false alarm obviously an attendance isn't warranted."

Mr Moore said problems were mainly arising with poorly designed or maintained systems.

Pauline Hedges, from the Surrey Chambers of Commerce, said business owners might at first believe the attendance policy was not fair, but she said they should be "diligent and vigilant in looking after their own premises".

She said it appeared many fire alarm systems were badly maintained or wrongly set, but that "99% of the time it's an oversight" rather than negligence.