Burnt toast and cooking to blame for more than 1,000 false alarm call-outs for Tyne & Wear firefighters

Burnt toast and cooking were to blame for more than 1,000 false alarms firefighters were called to last year.

Thursday, 9th July 2020, 7:28 am
Picture c/o Pixabay

According to the latest figures, automatic alerts sent Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service on 4,228 wasted trips in 2019/20 – equivalent to a quarter of all incidents crews were sent to.

Food preparation accounted for almost half of all unwanted call outs to homes, prompting calls for amateur chefs to avoid honing their skills while ‘drunk, tired or taking medication’.

“We’re trying to make sure people are calling us at the right opportunity to get to a property to deal with a fire as quickly as we can,” said Phil Clark, the brigade’s area manager for Strategy and Performance.

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“Our prevention and fire safety teams constantly work with businesses and home safety checks, making sure the siting of smoke detectors are in the right location to try and minimise this.

“But still 43 per cent of unwanted fire signals are down to burnt toast and cooking.”

Clark was speaking at yesterday’s (Monday, July 6) meeting of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority’s Policy and Performance Committee.

The 1,147 automatic false alarms (AFAs) caused by cooking and burnt toast in 2019/20 came as the overall number of AFAs in homes rose by three per cent, compared to the previous year (2018/19).

It meant that per 1,000 ‘domestic premises’, TWFRS has the second highest rate of AFAs out of England’s metropolitan fire brigades, just behind London.

Speaking after the meeting, Ian Warne, TWFRS’s head of Prevention and Education, said: “We’re seeing an increase in false alarms from people’s homes – most of which are cooking related.

“Most domestic premises fitted with automatic fire alarms are owned by housing providers.

“We’re working with these providers to ensure that the correct alarms are fitted in appropriate places, that suitable call back arrangements are in place to confirm a fire or false alarm and to educate residents on kitchen safety.

“Of course, we would rather see a false alarm than a genuine emergency, but false alarms tie up resources that may be needed elsewhere.

“Both can be avoided by taking extra care in the kitchen.”

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