FALSE alarms in County Durham and Darlington schools were the cause of about 180 calls to the fire service last year.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service was called to 750 false alarms in 2017/18 caused by automatic fire detectors. A quarter of these were in schools, mainly during holidays while building work was being carried out.

At a meeting of the Combined Fire Authority for County Durham and Darlington, fire chiefs said they were working with councils and schools to prevent alarms being triggered unnecessarily.

Keith Wanley, head of community risk management, said: “It’s important work, reducing false alarms, because it reduces the amount of time that could be used on other fire reduction and prevention work.”

In a report prepared for the fire authority, an unnamed school in Lanchester was responsible for six automated false alarms which were later found to have been caused by a leaky ceiling.

The service attended 2,316 false alarms in 2017/18.