London's worst false fire alarm offenders may be charged

Fire alarm
Image caption Building proprietors may have to pay at least £290 for each fire engine, said LFB

Organisations making the most false alarms to London Fire Brigade - including hospitals and universities - could face a bill of more than £1m a year under proposed plans.

It is estimated call-outs made in error cost LFB about £37m each year.

Proprietors of sites with 10 or more false alarms from automatic systems in 12 months could be fined at least £290 for each fire engine.

LFB is called out to an average of 403 buildings more than 10 times each year.

'Absurd waste'

False alarms occur when automatic fire alarms are wrongly activated or when people set off alarms when there is no emergency.

James Cleverly, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said: "A fire engine is called out to a false alarm from an automatic system every 12 minutes in London, which is an absurd waste of time, money and resources, especially in this time of financial uncertainty."

LFB said as well as costing money and wasting time, false alarms can cause complacency.

An investigation by BBC London found that in 2011, LFB attended 55,719 false alarms with hospitals and Heathrow Airport being the main call-outs.

But the number of call-outs from false alarms has steadily decreased annually from 71,679 in 2007.

The proposal to charge is expected to be subject to public consultation in January.

The NHS has admitted it has the worst record of unwanted fire signals in the country and the Home Office is expecting this to be reduced substantially.

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