Last reviewed 27 November 2020

The Home Office has published the latest fire statistics for England for the year ending June 2020, which show that false alarms accounted for 42% of all incidents attended by the Fire and Rescue Services (FRSs) during the year.

In the year ending June 2020, the statistics show the following.

  • 549,913 incidents were attended by FRSs — this was a 4% decrease compared with the previous year (573,776), an 11% increase compared with 5 years ago (496,136), but a 19% decrease compared with 10 years ago (680,634).

  • Of all incidents attended by FRSs, fires accounted for 28%.

  • False fire alarms accounted for 42% of incidents and non-fire incidents 30%.

  • This compares with fires accounting for 35%, fire false alarms for 42% and non-fire incidents of 23% 10 years ago.

According to Kent Fire and Rescue Service, typical sources of false alarms include:

  • activation of a smoke detector by airborne pollutants

  • vandalism or other malicious action

  • human error (generally due to unfamiliarity with the system)

  • faulty or non-maintained equipment.

The Brigade says, “While the Fire Service is dealing with a false alarm, they are not available to tackle real fires, they waste essential resources (putting lives at risk) and they disrupt other activities such as training and community fire safety work.

“However, the problem is not exclusive to the Fire Service as false calls (referred to as unwanted fire signals) also erode your confidence in the value and reliability of your automatic fire detection (AFD) systems and can cause costly interruptions to manufacturing work procedures.”

The new statistics are available on GOV.UK.