False alarms are responsible for more than half of all call-outs answered by the firefighters working in Islington’s Junction ward.
That wastes time and could mean too few crews attending real emergencies, according to one veteran member of the London Fire Brigade, who has worked in the ward for over a decade. He requested anonymity so he could speak to Islington Now freely.
Data from the LFB shows that 54 percent of the 175 calls in Junction so far this year are false alarms, most caused by automatic alarm systems. The fireman said: “You find that you spend all your time trying to find the owners of premises where alarms are going off, when we should be fighting real fires. One day we’ll be left short at a big incident.”
Most of London’s fire services face similar problems, with the majority of calls false alarms. Just 19 percent of Junctions call-outs actually involve fires; and that figure is actually high for London as a whole, where less than 14 percent of all alerts involve fires.
More than a quarter of calls, 27 percent, are classified as “Special Services”, which can range from helping out at road traffic accidents, dealing with spills of dangerous chemicals or rescuing people from lifts when they have become jammed. Our interviewee said: ”Most of us don’t mind specials, I personally think people should better maintain their lifts, but most of them are valid…it’s better people ring than they leave an incident to escalate.”
Islington Now requested comment from the LFB headquarters for this article but the LFB declined.