A proposal to change the way Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service responds to some automatic fire alarms is to go before Norfolk County Councils Members.
The Authority's Fire and Rescue Overview and Scrutiny panel meets on Monday November 19th and will hear that the move could save the service an estimated Â£30,000 a year.
Under the proposals, if an alarm was activated at certain premises*, such as factories and shops, the service would require confirmation that there was, or was believed to be, a fire before fire engines were sent.
The changes would not apply to AFAs operating in a number of key premises such as those used for sleeping accommodation, those used by vulnerable people, schools and some special industrial sites. The response to people's homes would also remain unaffected.
A report to the Panel, which contains the results of a consultation over the summer, says that such a move would bring Norfolk into line with many other fire and rescue services across the country who have introduced similar strategies.
Currently some 95pc of all automatic fire alarms (AFAs) attended by Norfolk's fire and rescue service are false alarms with a significant number caused by faulty or poorly designed and maintained systems. This means fire engines were turned out unnecessarily 2366 times last year at an estimated cost of Â£102,000 to the Norfolk taxpayer. Very few of the remaining AFA incidents require any action by the fire and rescue service when they arrived.
Nigel Dixon, Cabinet Member for Community Protection, said "Our fire and rescue service has been working hard to drive down the number of false alarms firefighters attend and the service achieved a total reduction of over 600 calls since April 2011. However officers believe they can go further and become even more efficient without, crucially, compromising safety. I am sure Members will want to hear about and assess these proposals for themselves."
Members of the Fire and Rescue Overview and Scrutiny Committee are asked to comment of the report prior to its consideration by Cabinet.
Members will also hear from Chief Fire Officer Nigel Williams that there have been fewer fires in Norfolk this quarter (April to September) with accidental non-domestic fires, accidental fires in the home and accidental injuries from fires in the home all falling.
Also on the agenda is a report proposing Norfolk Fire Authority establishes an arm's length company to maximise its trading potential in areas such as commercial training. The report says that establishing a Community Interest Company (CIC) would allow any profits to be reinvested in youth engagement and fire prevention.
Members will hear that the service's Commercial Training Department has approximately 200 repeat customers to whom it provides training services in firefighting, fire safety awareness and the management of fire safety. To comply with current legislation the department has to limit the amount of training it carries out, the report says. A CIC could allow the department to grow, trade and generate a profit, the Panel will be told. Members will be asked to consider and comment of the proposal.
After the meeting panel members will have the chance to meet Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service's first Accelerant Detection Dog.
Since his arrival in June two-year-old Cocker Spaniel Ben has been working with his handler Station Manager Peter Abbs. Ben's role will be to assist fire investigators in detecting the presence of ignitable liquids which may have been used in cases of arson.
Ben is the second dog to join Norfolk's fire and rescue service following Hooky the black Labrador search dog who joined the service's Urban Search and Rescue team in 2010.