Reduction in false alarms among highlights at latest WSFRS Scrutiny Committee


Release date: 8 March 2024


West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has responded to 183 fewer false alarms following the introduction of a new policy.


The fire service introduced the new policy at the end of 2022 to reduce the number of times firefighters were mobilised to unwanted fire signals, otherwise known as false alarms, in commercial premises. The change has resulted in 183 fewer incidents in the latest quarter, compared to the same period the previous year. This has freed up time for operational firefighters to carry out community fire safety work and has increased their availability for emergencies.


The new policy was a key priority set out in the service’s Community Risk Management Plan 2022-2026.


The figure was presented to members of West Sussex County Council’s Fire & Rescue Service Scrutiny Committee, who met for the first time this year on Friday, 1 March, to review the fire service’s performance.


Last week the committee scrutinised West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service’s quarter three performance (between 1 October 2023 and 31 December 2023) and data revealed that 26 of the service’s 30 core measures were on target.


During this timeframe, the service responded to incidents caused by Storm Ciarán (including the flooding of a substation in Bognor Regis which provides electrical power to over 30,000 homes), held the official opening ceremony for Platinum House and completed its first round of internal focus groups.


A performance report showed that there was sustained good performance in many areas.


While there were 45 more accidental dwelling fires (ADFs) compared to the same time last year, there have been considerably less casualties and the total number of ADFs (289) remains below the national average. Data has revealed that the main causes of these fires was due to unsafe cooking and faulty equipment or appliances. 


In total, four areas of improvement were noted. One of these included the service’s crewing on all retained fire engines. Nationally, the retained crewing model has become less sustainable and the service is committed to developing and implementing an operational response model to maximise retained availability, as part of the Community Risk Management Plan.


Councillor Kevin Boram, Chairman of the Fire & Rescue Service Scrutiny Committee, said: “West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service has come a long way and made many positive changes since we introduced the dedicated scrutiny committee in 2019, and undoubtedly, the level of public service being delivered to residents has improved greatly during those years.


“The scrutiny committee aims to improve the transparency, effectiveness and openness of our fire and rescue service, and it is great to see this being achieved.”


Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Mark Andrews, said: “I am delighted that we have sustained our good performance, and we have made improvements from the previous quarter with another one of our core measures achieving a green status.


“With that said, we are not complacent, and we will continue to strive for better performance to make West Sussex a safer place for the communities we serve.


“We acknowledge that there are still areas that we need to improve upon, notably around our retained availability. Improving this core measure is a key priority and we are committed to reviewing the retained duty system and working to implement a sustainable model that is fit for a modern fire and rescue service.”  


You can watch the meeting back here:

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