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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

False alarm calls to Kent Fire and Rescue crews run into thousands, costing the county millions of pounds

10 February 2014
by Claire McWethy

 

Nuisance call-outs made up more than 40% of the work of firefighters in Kent last year, it's been revealed.

That is estimated to cost the taxpayer more than £11.5m.

Of the total 13,869 calls made to Kent Fire and Rescue Service in 2013, more than 5,800 were a waste of crews' time, according to statistics from a Freedom of Information request.

Fire engine. Library picture

Fire engine. Library picture

Dover was the false alarm blackspot of Kent last year - with around half of all calls for fire help being bogus.

But a road in Tunbridge Wells had more false alarms than any other in the county - with 33 in just one year.

Of the total countywide, 2,487 false alarms were due to faulty equipment and 121 of the reports were made deliberately.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service does not itemise the cost of sending crews and fire engines to each individual report, but the Department for Communities and Local Government estimates the bill for a false alarm to be £1,970.

A spokesman for Kent Fire and Rescue Service said: “Between January to December 2011, half the incidents we went to were false alarms.

A fire engine on a call-out

A fire engine on a call-out

“A lot were caused by automatic fire alarms. At 98% of the calls to these we attended and found there was no fire, and the system had been triggered by something as simple as dust.

“While our fire engines are responding to these false alarms, they are not available for real emergencies such as fires and car crashes where people need our help.

“This is why we have a call challenge policy.”

The vast majority of false alarm calls - 2,487 last year - were due to faulty apparatus.


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