Emergency services / Changes to automatic fire alarm call outs now in effect

Photo: SFRS

THE SCOTTISH Fire and Rescue Service will no longer attend automatic call outs to businesses, including those in Shetland, as of last Saturday (1 July).

This is due to most automatic call outs being false alarms – firefighters attended an average of 80 every day across Scotland last year.

In the financial year 2022/23, there were 68 false alarms in Shetland.

The new guidance will apply to buildings like factories, offices, shops and leisure facilities.

It means that dutyholders now must investigate what is setting off the fire alarm and call 999 themselves, instead of the fire brigade being automatically alerted.

Sleeping premises such as hospitals, care centres and hotels are not included.

It is hoped that the new system will help businesses be more productive, discourage complacency and leave the fire service with more time to attend real emergencies.

Councillor Allison Duncan, chair of Shetland’s community safety and resilience board, told Shetland News that he is “reasonably happy” with the new response system.


Some Shetlanders expressed concerns about rural business dealing with increased response times due to the new rules, but Duncan says there are “many benefits” to reducing automatic call outs.

“The reason for the change is to reduce the number of unnecessary blue light journeys,” he said.

“When you understand the examples that causes the unwanted fire alarm signals, is cooking fumes, steam, smoking materials, dust, aerosols… that’s the main reasons of what calls the fire [service].

“Reducing the calls, there is many benefits that goes with that.

“It would be reducing cost, reducing carbon emissions and reducing the time taken away from the firefighters… a substantial number of them are part time firefighters and they have to leave their own employment [to attend calls].”

There was a 12-week consultation period in 2021 before the changes were decided.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.