Royal London Hospital on list of worst offenders for false fire call-outs

PUBLISHED: 09:29 09 October 2012 | UPDATED: 09:39 09 October 2012

Bruce Epsly, London Fire Brigade's Borough Commander for Tower Hamlets

Bruce Epsly, London Fire Brigade's Borough Commander for Tower Hamlets


Firefighters in Tower Hamlets attend seven false alarms every day, new figures released by the London Fire Brigade have revealed.

Hospitals are the biggest culprits, with Whitechapel’s Royal London ranking ninth on a list of the 10 worst offenders, all of which are hospitals.

The Royal London was responsible for 100 false call-outs last year, only 69 fewer than the first hospital on the list; St George’s in Tooting.

Despite a reduction of 41 per cent in the last decade, last year there were 2,614 false alarms in Tower Hamlets, costing an estimated £2.2million.

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson explained that hospital false alarms are generated by automatic alarm and detection systems, saying: “In these cases, what’s usually responsible for a false alarm is a faulty system, or even someone burning toast.”

The Brigade is urging such public institutions to ensure their alarm systems are in good working order and properly maintained.

A statement from the Royal London Hospital blamed the move to a new building for its false alarms.

A spokesperson from Barts Health said: “The temporary rise in false fire alarms at the Royal London site has been due to bedding-in issues following the move to our new building in Whitechapel. These have now been resolved.”

More than a third of all emergency calls are false alarms, which has a severe impact on services’ ability to respond to real incidents.

Bruce Epsly, London Fire Brigade’s Borough Commander for Tower Hamlets, said: “We can’t keep sending our crews out to nonexistent fires, particularly when a little extra care and attention from the owners or managers of buildings could solve this problem.

“This is about the Brigade being able to do the job people expect it to – attend real emergencies. The management of these alarm systems must improve so that our crews are not sent to needless call-outs.”

The Brigade introduced call filtering in 2009 to help reduce the number of unwanted call-outs.

Between 6am and 9pm, control officers ask callers why the alarm is sounding, and if there is no fire then fire engines are not sent.

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