East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is sending out notices to properties where there have been repeated calls to 999 for their service when it wasn’t necessary. These notices, or advice, are being sent in an attempt topersuade property owners to take responsibility for their alarm systems and lifts in the case of high rise apartments. People need to gain a better understanding of what an emergency situation is and they need to keep their equipment in good working order to avoid nuisance calls to the Fire and Rescue Service.

We’re not talking about a few false alarms. In 2016-17, there were 4,515 false alarms of the 9,144 calls that came in. That’s almost half of all calls that were false alarms. Of those false alarms, 3,000 were from automatic alarm systems. As spokesman for the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, Mark Matthews said: “It is important that we are not distracted from real emergencies.”

That’s the real problem with false alarms or nuisance calls – they take away resources from real emergencies. Over 300 calls were made because people were stuck in lifts. A building shouldn’t be counting on the Fire and Rescue Service to help their tenants or clients get out of lifts. The lifts should be serviced properly to avoid that situation and the management of these buildings should have a plan in place to extricate people without having to call 999.

As with the lifts, automatic alarm systems should be properly maintained and false alarms should be investigated to avoid them in the future. Matthews also said: “we are asking them to follow our advice and take responsibility for their premises and by doing so, ensure our crews remain available for life-saving incidents.”

These false alarms are a drain on resources and could impede the service from getting to a life-threatening emergency. Everyone needs to keep this in mind before dialling 999.