New figures reveal more than a third of incidents attended by Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service are false alarms

MORE than 40 per cent of incidents attended by Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service are false alarms, new figures have revealed.

During 2012/13 CFRS was called to 4,435 incidents – 1,837 of which (41.4 per cent) were false alarms. And between April and November 2013 this trend has continued with 1,192 (40.5 per cent) of the 2,941 incidents being in that category.

False alarms have a range of causes including automatic alarms being wrongly activated due to technical faults or human error, controlled burning being reported as a fire incident and malicious hoax calls.

Firefighters and councillors are calling on the people of Cumbria to help tackle the problem.

Cumbria’s Chief Fire Officer Ian Cartwright said: “When well over a third of the incidents we’re called to are false alarms, it’s clear we’re spending too much time dealing with avoidable situations.

“Of course when we’re attending false alarms it also means we might not be available for more serious fires and road traffic collisions where lives could be at risk.”

Poorly maintained or badly installed fire alarms and detection systems are often responsible for alarms being needlessly activated so it’s important that buildings like workplaces and factories all have their systems regularly checked.

Councillor Barry Doughty, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for Safer and Stronger Communities, said: “We really need people to assist us in reducing the number of false alarms and having automatic alarms regularly maintained and not making hoax calls is the best way to help.

“Making hoax calls is a criminal offence and we work closely with the police to catch those responsible.”

While the number of false alarms accounts for more than 40 per cent of incidents attended by CFRS, the county has seen a major decrease in the number of actual fires – a 47 per cent reduction between 2007-08 and 2012-13 thanks to CFRS targeting its resources at fire prevention activity.

As a result, CFRS is currently consulting on proposals for better reflecting current risk patterns and shaping the service to the dangers that actually exist.

To have a say on the Fire Service budget proposals, and others within the council’s public consultation, visit www.cumbria.gov.uk/ourfuture or pick up a copy of the consultation document available in local libraries and other public buildings.

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