A SHOCKING report has revealed that almost half of all calls to the fire service in East Renfrewshire turn out to be malicious or a false alarm.

And bosses at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) have warned that having to deal with so many unnecessary call-outs means 999 crews could be delayed in reaching a genuine emergency, which could be a matter of life and death.

David Proctor, SFRS local senior officer for East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde, told the Barrhead News: “These type of calls can divert SFRS resources away from genuine emergencies and result in unnecessary blue light journeys for our firefighters.

“However, through robust and flexible strategic planning, our crews are always ready to respond to any incident to keep our communities safe.”

One of the biggest problems faced by local firefighters is the large number of call-outs caused by faulty alarm systems at business premises.

Mr Proctor added: “Unwanted fire alarm signals can result in lost revenue for businesses and the risk of staff becoming complacent.

“We are committed to working with duty holders and, where appropriate, improving management arrangements within premises to reduce the number of unwanted fire alarm signals.”

Mr Proctor spoke out after East Renfrewshire Council (ERC) gave its formal backing to the SFRS local plan for the area.

The latest full council meeting heard that, over the last five years, there has been a downward trend in the number of recorded fire-related casualties in East Renfrewshire.

Councillors were told cooking mishaps are the most common cause of fires within homes in the local area and are also the most prevalent cause where fire-related injuries are sustained.

However, Mr Proctor also condemned the number of people in East Renfrewshire who start fires deliberately, causing firefighters and appliances to be moved from other incidents.

He told councillors: “Deliberate fire-setting accounts for a significant number of operational incidents within East Renfrewshire.

“Dealing with instances of deliberate fire-setting also diverts fire and rescue resources from other meaningful activities.”