Scots firefighters are set to cut back on 57,000 unnecessary blue light journeys annually after a public consultation backed calls to reduce attendance at false alarms.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) report revealed that two crews of up to nine firefighters were routinely being sent out to over 28,000 false alarms each year.
The change anticipates that over 37,000 hours will be freed up each year allowing firefighters to improve their training and carry out community safety work.
The SFRS’s recent public consultation provided communities and partners with three options to safely reduce these numbers.
The SFRS will now establish if Automatic Fire Alarms (AFAs) in workplaces have been triggered by an actual fire alarm before sending out fire crews.
This means that Operations Control staff will ask the caller relevant questions, known as the “Call Challenge” to determine whether fire appliances are required.
The change which will reduce attendance rates by up to 57% will come into effect in April 2023 and will bring Scotland in line with most other UK Fire and Rescue Services.
Hospitals, residential care homes and sleeping risk premises will remain exempt from the change and appliances will continue to be automatically sent to any fire alarm activations within these facilities.
SFRS Assistant Chief Officer Stuart Stevens said: “We are grateful to the public and our partners for sharing their views on our proposals.
“False alarms account for almost one third of fire and rescue activity across Scotland.
“They place a drain on front line services, increase risk to road users and cause interruption to the business sector and communities.”
Stevens continued: “Making this change means we can carry out more training, community safety and fire prevention activity, as well as improving road safety and reducing our carbon impact.
“These unnecessary blue light journeys bring risks to our crews, other road users and pedestrians as well as impacting the environment with an estimated 575 tonnes of carbon emissions produced – the equivalent of heating 230 homes a year.
“Businesses will also experience less disruption as they no longer need to wait for us to attend to give the all clear after a false alarm.
“The legal responsibility for dealing with an AFA alert lies with the duty holder of a property and most UK fire and rescue services now seek confirmation of a fire before attending. Now the SFRS is making this change too.”