Changes are made to some automatic calls

Changes are being made to the way fire crews respond to some fire alarms.

Nearly a fifth of incidents Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service have attended over the last five years were false alarms from automatic fire alarm systems in businesses.

From June 1, the service will attend alarm calls to non-residential properties between 8am and 6pm when there is a backup call confirming a fire or physical sign of fire.

Some premises will not be affected by this change and will receive an emergency response as soon as a call is received.

Over the last few years service officers have been working with business owners to help reduce these calls, but they still remain high.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer for community safety, Chris Lowther, said: “False alarms are not good for anyone.

“They cause disruption, with many premises having to be evacuated; they also impact on productivity and can result in lost sales for businesses.

“They also mean that fire crews who attend these false alarms are not available to attend life threatening incidents, undertake critical training or work in the community to prevent fires from happening.

“Essentially false alarms waste the organisation’s time, firefighters time and could cost lives.

“This change will enable us to respond according to the risk, using our resources effectively to ensure that those most vulnerable in our communities continue to get the fastest response in a real emergency.”

“There is no legal requirement for fire and rescue services to respond to calls from an automatic fire alarm system to find out if there is a fire. Business owners and managers have a range of legal responsibilities they must meet regarding fire safety.

“During the day time most non-residential properties have people occupying the premises who could safely check for signs of a fire, without putting themselves or other people in the building at risk. If there is a fire, or they suspect there is one, they should contact us as they normally would.”

For more information, and a list of those businesses which are exempt, visit