Increase in false fire alarms at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust

The number of false alarms at the Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust has shot up in recent years, amid concerns about added strain on NHS and firefighter resources.

Figures from NHS Digital show there were 22 false alarms in the 12 months to March - the equivalent of around two every month.

The number of false alarms at the hospital trust has concerned the fire service

The number of false alarms at the hospital trust has concerned the fire service

The majority of alarms are caused by automatic systems, which may summon the fire service as soon as they activate.

Most are caused by faulty or damaged systems, or by things such as burnt toast, steam or dust.

According to the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), false alarms are a growing problem, costing ‘thousands of staff hours’ every year.

But repeated incidents can pose a risk to safety by causing complacency towards what could be genuine alarm.

The number of false alarms at the trust has increased by 144 per cent in five years.

However, firefighters were only called to five of the false alarm incidents in 2017-18.

Paul McCourt, from the NFCC, has warned that the increase in false alarms is having an impact on NHS services.

He said: “False fire alarm activations cause huge problems for the NHS and the fire and rescue service.

“Every year thousands of staff hours are lost due to false alarms and unwanted fire signals.

“This affects both fire and health service delivery, business continuity and patient care.

“By working together on the management and maintenance of fire alarm systems we can deliver the best possible services to the public without increasing costs or down time.”

Sara Gorton, from the health workers union UNISON, said it was ‘yet another example’ of underfunding in the NHS.

She said: “False fire alarms are not only disruptive for staff and patients, but also pose a risk to their safety.

“It’s time the Government acted to address the rising backlog of repairs affecting trusts.”Mr McCourt continued: “NFCC asks that local NHS organisations contact and work directly with their local fire and rescue services who are able to help and advise on how best to address the growing problem of false alarms and unwanted fire signals.”

An NHS spokesman said: “All NHS hospitals take fire safety seriously.

“This includes following national fire safety regulations which require them to maintain their automatic fire detection systems.

“We would expect all NHS trusts to put measures in place to minimise the number of false fire alarms, while ensuring the safety of patients and staff.”