Toasters could mean trouble

BUSINESSES in Huntingdonshire could be putting lives at risk through staff toasting bread on their premises. Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is so concerned at the number of false alarms from automatic fire alarms that it has produced a DVD for bus

BUSINESSES in Huntingdonshire could be putting lives at risk through staff toasting bread on their premises.

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service is so concerned at the number of false alarms from automatic fire alarms that it has produced a DVD for businesses and other premises in a bid to reduce the number they attend unnecessarily.

When crews are attending false alarms, they cannot be dealing with real emergencies or undergoing training that might save lives, the service warns.

The DVD highlights the implications that unwanted fire signals have for the fire service, the employer and the public. It has been produced specifically for owners of premises with automatic fire alarms to use as a training aid for their staff and to encourage people to think more about fire safety.


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Fire signals manager Paul Clarke, pictured with copies of the DVD and an offending toaster, said: "A common cause of false automatic fire alarms is cooking, especially toast, and this is highlighted in the DVD. The DVD demonstrates the consequences of these unwanted fire signals."

The short film shows an employee making toast and being distracted by the phone ringing. The toast burns and activates the alarm resulting in the building being evacuated and the fire service being called out.

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The fire crews have to abandon important training to attend the call and are then unable to attend a real emergency, so that fire engines from further away to be sent.

Paul said: "False alarm activations also have implications for businesses and for the public. The process of evacuation results in loss of revenue and persistent false alarms could result in people not taking a fire alarm seriously, which could endanger life in a genuine fire situation."

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service attends more than 4,500 false automatic fire alarms a year.

"If the current high levels continue, we may have to reconsider our attendance policy at certain premises, but will liaise fully with any premises where that may be necessary," Paul added.

INFORMATION: For a copy of the DVD or advice on reducing unwanted fire signals, contact Paul Clarke on 01480 444628 or e-mail paul.clarke@cambsfire.gov.uk.

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