New fire strike warning

Firefighters strike outside the station on Eyre Street, Sheffield
Firefighters strike outside the station on Eyre Street, Sheffield
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Chiefs are warning businesses that firefighters will only respond to automatic alarms if they are backed up with 999 calls to confirm premises are actually burning.

The warning comes as bosses prepare for a fourth firefighters’ strike in a month when crews walk out on Wednesday, November 13.

Firefighters are taking industrial action between 10am and 2pm in an ongoing dispute over pensions.

Bosses have had to recruit contingency staff to provide emergency cover – at a cost of £350,000 so far.

Chief Fire Officer James Courtney said: “During the strike we’ll be prioritising incidents that are genuinely life-threatening and, in keeping with previous strike periods, we’ll only be responding to automated alarms if there is a confirmed fire.

“But businesses can still help reduce the number of unnecessary false alarms in the first place by testing their systems are working properly.”

The fire service also gets called to businesses to help release people from stuck or broken-down lifts.

Mr Courtney said: “In the event of a lift becoming stuck, calls to the fire service should only be made if people in the lift are at immediate risk or in such distress as to need medical attention.

“People responsible for premises with lifts must provide details of how to contact the responsible maintenance company, both in the lift and where alarm calls from the lift are received in the building.”

Chiefs said policies were ‘designed to keep fire engines available for genuine emergencies during the strike period’.

Last year, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue responded to more than 800 ‘automatic fire alarms’ which were false alarms – 20 times the number of hoax calls.

A spokesman said: “The best way for businesses to stop false alarms from happening is to test their systems regularly and maintain them properly.

“The advice for businesses during the industrial action includes locking up properly, making sure business premises are secure when no-one is on site and testing alarm systems for faults to eliminate unnecessary false alarms.

“Store rubbish safely – make sure bin stores are secure and rubbish is stored safely.”

n Call 0114 2532314 for more advice.