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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.

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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.

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