Devon and Somerset fire crews warn that delaying sending fire crews to attend automatic fire alarms in business premises will leave 170 fires to spread every year. The Fire Brigades Union says this is gambling with lives, businesses and jobs and is a â€˜cut too farâ€™.
The fire authority have proposed to introduce a new policy of not sending fire engines to automatic fire alarms at business and commercial premises. Instead they will wait for someone to enter premises and confirm there is a fire before sending any fire engines.
Trevor French, FBU Devon and Somerset Brigade secretary said: â€œMost automatic fire alarm alerts are false alarms, but each year 170 in Devon and Somerset are real fires. This is playing Russian roulette with businesses who pay their business rates precisely for this sort of service.
â€œNo one ever knowingly attends a false alarm but automatic alarms do need checking out by fire crews trained to do it. Not all fires are obvious which is why we have specialist heat-detecting equipment to help identify hard to detect fires.
â€œIt is wrong to expect businesses to send people in to see if there is a fire in a building where an automatic alarm is going off before getting the fire service involved. The whole point of persuading businesses to fit automatic alarms is so we are alerted early and can start tackling a fire at its early stages.
â€œIt is dangerous to ask untrained and ill-equipped people to go in and confirm a fire. It flies in the face of the local fire service advice on its own website to get out, stay out and call 999, which is good advice.
â€œIf there is a fire or a small fire flares up we have the protective clothing, training and kit to deal with it. Any delay in doing that will mean greater risk to the building and far greater fire damage.
â€œThis policy will mean that every year there will be 170 fires â€“ more than three a week â€“ which will get a delayed response. That means more fire damage or total loss of a building and many small businesses never recover.
â€œIf we donâ€™t lose lives we will certainly lose livelihoods and see workplaces and jobs going up in smoke. This policy is a cut too far.â€
Contact Trevor French FBU Brigade Sec 07967018757