14% of RBFRS calls false alarms

14% of RBFRS calls false alarms

ROYAL BERKSHIRE Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) stated that false alarms accounted for that percentage of all calls received since 2007.

Reading Chronicle reported on the findings release by RBFRS, with hoax calls ‘on the rise’ as ‘more than 15,000 false alarms’ were reported over the last 10 years. This worked out at over 1,500 calls a year, and the hoaxes ‘are thought to have cost the fire service thousands of pounds over the last decade’. The figures came from all five Reading stations, with 15,697 in total and Caversham Road called to the most with 3,865.

These figures were obtained through a Freedom of Information request, and the news outlet noted that false alarms ‘are filed by the fire service when someone deliberately makes a hoax call, an alarm is triggered without good reason, or a neighbour mistakes a smaller controlled fire for an emergency’. Another categorisation of a false alarm occurs when crews are called to ‘special services incidents’ that are later established to be ‘malicious’.

Over 1,000 false alarms attended since 2009 were ‘deemed to be of a malicious nature’, though RBFRS said it was ‘not possible to measure the exact cost of each callout’ – one special service call costs the service £318, though those calls are ‘less common than the statutory emergency incidents’, and RBFRS ‘does not recoup costs from regular emergency incidents’.

A spokesman for RBFRS stated: ‘We have a robust call challenge policy in place to help reduce the number of malicious calls we respond to. Our highly trained operatives in Thames Valley Fire Control Service will challenge and ask the caller for more information where appropriate.

‘It is important to stress that every emergency call has to be taken seriously and it is usually only upon attendance that we can determine if an incident is a false alarm. If people believe there is an incident, we would urge them to always report it by calling 999 and we will respond.’