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London Fire Brigade criticises Homerton Hospital for excessive false fire alarms

PUBLISHED: 13:58 09 October 2012 | UPDATED: 14:06 09 October 2012

The hospital is one of London's top 10 worst offenders, and accounted for five per cent of all the call outs in Hackney last year.

London Fire Brigade has rapped Homerton Hospital for being one of London’s top 10 worst offenders for false-alarm call-outs.

The site in Homerton Row accounted for 112 of the 1,960 false alarms registered in Hackney last year — five per day — which cost the borough an estimated £1.6 million.

Around a third of the false alarms originated at the City and Hackney Centre for Mental Health, which shares space with Homerton Hospital, but is managed by the East London NHS Foundation Trust.

The calls, which are often generated by faulty automated systems, reduce London Fire Brigade’s ability to attend real incidents, deliver training and carry out community safety work.

Graham Howgate, the Brigade’s Borough Commander for Hackney, said: “We can’t keep sending our crews out to non-existent fires, particularly when a little extra care and attention from the owners or managers of buildings could solve this problem.

“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.”

In response, a hospital spokesman said: “Of the alarms with no actual fire recorded in Homerton Hospital, a number were due to contractor errors and other issues such as steam escape.

“We do encourage staff to take rapid action in the event of a potential fire hazard which is good practice but recognise that there are some steps we could take to avoid unnecessary calls to the fire service.”

The fire brigade and hospital are now working together to reduce the number of false alarms.

Nationally, unnecessary call-outs cost government about £1 billion every year. False alarm call-out figures are 44 percent lower than a decade ago.

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