A MAJOR overhaul of fire and rescue services in North Yorkshire is underway which could see changes to turn outs for automatic alarms.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service has revealed that nearly 25 per cent of automatic alarm call outs turn out to be false alarms, taking crews away from other potential life saving emergencies, essential training and community safety work.

In the past year fire crews attended more than 1,900 calls to automatic fire alarms which turned out to be false.

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The proposed changes to the fire service's response include:

*Not attending automatic alarms between 8am and 6pm at premises where people do not sleep, unless a fire has been confirmed.

*Reducing attendance to automatic alarms where people sleep and other high risk establishments to one fire engine at all times - currently two attend at night.

*Not attending specific premises where there are repeated false alarms and where the problem is not being addressed - this would be used as a last resort.

Head of risk management, Owen Hayward said: “Nearly a quarter of the emergency calls we receive are to automatic fire alarms that turn out to be false alarms.

"The proposals, which include still sending one fire engine to automatic alarms at nights and one at all times to higher risk premises, should reduce this burden on resources that may be needed elsewhere while ensuring that a fire engine is sent when it is most likely to be needed.”

Changes are also being proposed to charges for call outs classed as "special service" - incidents which do not involve fire or emergency medical assistance.

Currently the service can charge for special non emergency calls such as pumping water from flooded buildings where people are not in danger, removing chimney pots which have become unstable and providing safety cover at large public events.

The proposal by the service is to stop charging for humanitarian special service calls where the aim is to protect and support public safety.

Mr Hayward said: "For special services, we are allowed to charge for any calls that are not fires or medical emergencies. We have previously charged for some of these, such as animal rescues, but are seeking views on our proposal not to charge for any calls that are in the interests of public safety or well-being.”

The fire service is calling on the public to tell them what they think. Information about the new plans and consultation forms can be found on the service’s website www.northyorksfire.gov.uk. The consultation ends on September 5.