Almost 41,000 False Alarms in London Last Year

The top 10 sources of repeated false fire alarms were hospitals, the London Fire Brigade reported.

Hospitals in London are the largest sources of false alarms causing firefighters to respond, according to a London Fire Brigade top 10 list released recently. The top ten, all hospitals, accounted for 1,189 false alarm calls to the brigade in 2011, with nine of them representing more than 100 call outs during the year apiece.

St. Georges Hospital topped the list with 169 false alarms last year, about one every other day. The other nine hospitals were:

  • Kings College Hospital, Denmark Hill – 163
  • Chase Farm Hospital, Enfield – 161
  • Ealing Hospital, Uxbridge Road - 159
  • Hillingdon Hospital, Hillingdon – 143
  • Queen's Hospital, Romford – 131
  • Guy's and St.Thomas' Hospital, Lambeth – 126
  • Homerton Hospital, Homerton Row – 112
  • Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel – 100
  • Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead - 94

False alarms citywide have dropped by 23 percent during the past five years, but brigade personnel still responded to 40,839 false alarms in 2011, costing an estimated £34 million ($54.5 million). The brigade reports more than 27,000 of those were to commercial or public buildings and resulted from faulty or poorly maintained automatic alarm systems. The British government estimates they cost the United Kingdom around £1 billion ($1.6 billion) per year, according to the brigade.

"Every penny of taxpayers' money is precious, especially in the current economic climate. We can't keep sending our crews out to nonexistent fires, particularly when a little extra care and attention from the owners or managers of buildings could solve this problem," said James Cleverly, chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. "This is about the brigade being able to do the job people expect it to: attend real emergencies. The management of these alarm systems must improve so that our crews are not sent to needless call outs."

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