January 2, 2014

False fire alarms now lead to fines for London businesses

London businesses will now be charged if they call the fire service more than 10 times a year for a false alarm.

In the last financial year, London Fire Brigade (LFB) was called out to 403 locations over 10 times, which cost it around £800,000.

If it had charged for this, nearly £500,000 would have been saved from call outs to London hospitals alone. The new fine, £290, will not affect domestic properties or care homes.

In total, the LFB attended 25,550 calls to false alarms at non-residential properties in the last financial year – costing £37m.

If charges had been in place, airports would have been charged £66,410 for 229 incidents while student halls of residence would have paid out £45,240 for 156 penalties.

Fire services across the UK could soon follow suit if the number of countrywide false alarms remains high.

James Cleverly, from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA), said: “The public deserve and expect firefighters to be available to attend genuine emergencies rather than attending thousands of false alarms.

“The vast bulk of automatic fire alarm calls turn out not to be fires, these are often caused by poor management or maintenance of alarm systems.”

The new charge is designed to lead to better maintained fire alarms, which are not triggered by incidents like burnt toast or steam, according to LFB.

LFB is concerned that frequent false alarms may lead to people ignoring them in the event of a real fire.

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