Helston: Fire service could charge businesses for false alarm calls

  Posted: 08.10.21 at 18:09 by Richard Whitehouse - Local Democracy Reporter

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Businesses in Cornwall could be charged by the fire service for callouts to false alarms under new plans.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) said that 46% of all incidents were now false alarms compared to less than a third in 2018.

As a result, the fire service is considering charging businesses whenever they are called out to false alarms in the hope that it will encourage businesses to prevent them from happening.

The possible introduction of charges is one of a number of measures which CFRS is seeking comments on in a consultation about its Community Risk Management Plan 2022-26.

A survey has been created by the service which will be available from November 1st to January 24th to get feedback on some of the proposals.

Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Kathryn Billing told a meeting of Cornwall Council’s neighbourhoods overview and scrutiny committee that she wanted to get feedback from businesses on the possibility of charging for false alarms and from members of the public.

She said that she wanted to hear the views of the business community and said that it was not targeting businesses with the move.

“They (businesses) have a duty to ensure their alarm systems are suitable and that they have an appropriate person to manage their fire safety. They do have those areas of responsibility.”

She added: “We are not just looking at it as cost recovery but that (businesses) is the main block of our false alarm calls and it is their responsibility that they don’t call us unless they absolutely need to and, of course, we will be there.”

Other measures that the CFRS is considering is reducing the number of firefighters which crew fire engines and whether fire stations are in the right locations in Cornwall.

CFO Billing said that the fire service needed to find ways of delivering a more efficient service which also provides value for money for the public.

She said: “We will be using individual resources to ensure that we are delivering what we should be doing in the most effective way. That is what I want to achieve in my 10 years as Chief Fire Officer, getting best value for Cornwall.”

One of the questions in the survey is whether people think there should be four or five firefighters on fire engines when they go out on calls.

The survey is clear that the possible changes in how the fire service operates is not only to meet the needs of the service but also fit with budgets for the coming years.

CFO Billing said: “We are heading through quite challenging times, not just locally but nationally as well. It is essential that our Fire and Rescue Service is really considering how we can be better value for the people of Cornwall but more efficient.”

No final decision on any of the proposals will be made until after the consultation has been completed and a final Community Risk Management Plan is published next year for approval by councillors.

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