North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) will start charging businesses to recoup the costs of sending fire engines out to false alarms.
Between April 2021 and March 2022, the service attended 7,594 incidents across the county but nearly half of these turned out to be false alarms.
NYFRS pledged to tackle the problem in its Risk and Resource Model 2022-2025 as it said the incidents take crews away from potentially life threatening situations.
The Conservative North Yorkshire Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner, Zoe Metcalfe, held an online public meeting around business fire safety and protection when the issue of false alarms came up.
Pete Gregory, head of protection and risk at the service, said the charge might help to stop repeat offenders. He said: “If it’s a consistent problem there is an option to charge and recoup costs of going out unnecessarily to some of these sites. We are aware of these problematic premises. It’s not necessarily last resort but it’s an option to use when the message is not getting through to individuals.”
A spokesman for the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner said the service is “still calculating exactly what the cost will be” but it hopes to publish the figure before the end of this month.
Other fire services that have set a charge include London Fire Brigade which charges £290 after 10 false alarm call-outs.
In North Yorkshire, a charge might be made after a fourth call out within a 12-month period.
The spokesman added: “A charge will only be considered once engagement from our business fire safety teams with a premises, has not resulted in a reduction of incidents attended. Thankfully, our engagement with premises has been highly successful, so as yet, the option to charge for repeated false alarm attendance has not yet been required.
“We will always undertake proactive work with business owners to help minimise the impact on both the business and ourselves prior to charging, or, taking other measures such as enforcement action, should that be appropriate.”