False alarms out number real fire call-outs in Dorset

False alarms out number real fire call-outs in Dorset

Published by Maria Greenwood at 8:07am 21st February 2020.

Firefighters were called to 40 more false alarms than actual fires in Dorset last year.

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue service say the number of false alarms could be reduced by more forward thinking from residents.

False alarms may have cost the Dorset & Wiltshire Fire Authority around £275,450.

Special service call-outs include incidents like road accidents where the fire service is required, but not for a fire. 

Fire Engines

David Graham is a group manager for DWFRS.

He says only a very small proportion of false alarms are malicious:

"24 out of the 787 incidents that we recorded as a false alarm we actually recorded as malicious.

"Not all false alarms are malicious and that's quite often the perception from the public is that when we say false alarm people think it's a malicious intent.

"We have lots of good intent false alarms where people were genuinely concerned there was a fire or there was a problem, but we've turned up and investigated and we've been able to reassure them and say thank you."

smoke alarm

David says we should never hesitate to report something, even if we think it's nothing and smoke alarms can cause a number of false call-outs:  

"Smoke alarms do prevent so much and as much as we do get some false alarms from smoke alarm ownership, that's fine, we're perfectly happy with that.

"Even 10 false alarms is better than one actual property fire. 

"There is so much prevention and benefit to be gained from that which far outweighs any risk or any perception that people might have about the negative consequences of a false alarm."

Bonfires needed to be reported to Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue beforehand to avoid unnecessary call outs.
Bonfires needed to be reported to Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue beforehand to avoid unnecessary call outs.

They're encouraging us to let them know if we're holding a bonfire or controlled burn.

David added:

"The person on the opposite side of the road driving past just sees a thick smoke plume coming from the rear of the premises and they think 'oh, the house looks like it's on fire' and they dial 999.

"That's obviously a prime cause of a false alarm.

"If we do receive calls then we would know and our call operators would know and they would be able to say 'yep, we've got the details and we know that's a bonfire in the back garden."

Here's how to let DWFRS know that you're planning to have a controlled burn.