FIREFIGHTERS were called to hundreds of unwanted false alarm signals (UFAS) across East Renfrewshire last year, the Barrhead News can reveal.

It comes after a Freedom of Information request revealed the service responded to a total of 313 UFAS between January and December 2022 across the local authority.

This means on average, fire crews attended 26 unnecessary calls each month.

Breaking down the UFAS figures month-by-month, The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) attended: 

  • 14 in January 
  • 28 in February
  • 26 in March
  • 27 in April
  • 27 in May
  • 20 in June
  • 35 in July
  • 33 in August
  • 24 in September
  • 25 in October 
  • 31 in November 
  • 23 in December

Meanwhile, firefighters were called to 1092 false alarm signals in neighbouring authority Renfrewshire last year.

Raising concern at the amount of UFAS attended in Renfrewshire compared to East Renfrewshire, West of Scotland MSP Paul O'Kane told The Barrhead News the difference is "puzzling".

The politician continued to say that due to the service being "overstretched and under-resourced" every minute counts, and they cannot afford "those minutes to be misspent".

It comes after it was announced the way the service would be dealing with UFAS for commercial business and workplace premises would be changing.

From July 2023, an alarm activation will require those with fire safety responsibility to investigate the cause of an alarm and only call 999 once a fire has been confirmed.

The change affects all premises and businesses that do not provide sleeping accommodation.

While hospitals, care homes, hotels, student accommodation, and domestic dwellings will continue to receive an emergency response.

Figures released by the fire service earlier this year revealed they attended more than 30,000 incidents of UFAS last year - the equivalent of around 80 a day - across Scotland. 

According to the SFRS, most false alarms are often caused by cooking fumes, dust, or a lack of maintenance.

Now, they hope the change in response will create capacity for crews to respond to real emergencies, whilst reducing the road risk and the impact on the environment caused by fire appliances making unnecessary blue light journeys.

Paul O'Kane MSP said: “Our fire services are vitally important and anytime they are being misused it could potentially endanger people who actually need that emergency help.

“The huge difference in figures between East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire is puzzling, but I hope analysis can be done to work out why that disparity exists.

“Our fire services are in a very precarious position – they are already overstretched and under-resourced.

“An under-resourced fire service means that every minute counts, and for the sake of health and safety in our communities, we cannot afford for those minutes to be misspent.”

Deputy Assistant Chief Officer Iain Macleod, the Head of Prevention and Protection at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Changes to the way we respond to automatic fire alarms were implemented earlier this year to reduce unnecessary blue light journeys across Scotland.

"We want to free up resources so that our firefighters, including those based in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, are available to attend real emergencies or undertake training as they work to keep communities safe.

"Businesses can help reduce unwanted fire alarm signals by training staff and putting in place suitable procedures to investigate the cause of any alarm actuation to confirm if there is a fire or not.

"Firefighters will always respond to any reports of fire or signs of a fire. Signs of fire may include, but are not limited to, visual flame, smell of smoke, smell of burning, or any fire alarm signal other than a single smoke detector."