Counting the cost of false Leeds fire alarms

Fire crews worried about call out charges
Fire crews worried about call out charges
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Businesses have been billed more than £25,000 by West Yorkshire Fire Service over nuisance false alarms.

The brigade introduced a scheme in April to charge companies that failed to deal with faults which caused alarms to go off on a regular basis.

The three-strikes policy sees culprits billed £350 on the fourth occasion that fire crews are called out to the same premises in a 12-month period because of a false alarm.

Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Evening Post show that, between April 1 and the end of October, the brigade issued 72 invoices – a total of £25,200.

Fire investigation manager Christopher Kemp said: “It is a fact that persistent false alarms instil complacency, which in turn puts people at risk.

“It is our aim, through utilisation of the charging scheme, to ensure that we make the communities of West Yorkshire safer by reducing the number of false alarms.”

The brigade introduced the scheme after revealing crews dealt with more than 3,600 false alarms a year caused by faulty equipment or poor management – one in six of all fire calls.

Bosses said businesses also suffered when alarms went off for no reason, at an average of £1,900 in lost productivity per incident. Under the charging scheme, any firm that has four false alarms within a year has to pay up on every subsequent occasion as well, until call-outs fall below four a year.

Mr Kemp added: “It should not be viewed as an income generation stream.”