South Yorkshire firefighters have been told to attend fewer incidents in a bid to reduce the amount of time wasted on false alarms.
The measure comes as it has been revealed that firefighters across the region are called to thousands of false alarms every year – costing millions of pounds.
Nicky Brown, chair of the South Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union, said steps were being taken to tackle the problem.
“South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have been cutting down the number of calls – and they’ve been reducing their attendance,” he said.
“They’ve been putting more onus on the premises’ managers to ensure it’s an actual incident before attending so that we don’t send appliances out unnecessarily. It’s a waste of resources.
“But if a fire alarm is going off, we have to send a firefighter out because there’s no way of knowing.
“The one time you don’t go, there could be drastic consequences.”
Since 2015, firefighters have been called out to a total of 23,281 false alarms, including thousands of times to hospitals and schools.
The estimated cost of call-outs – including the use of a fire engine and firefighters’ time – is nearly £8 million across the whole of Yorkshire.
The figure comes from a Freedom of Information request submitted to the region’s four fire services.
David Williams, chair of the Yorkshire Fire Brigades Union said drastic measures had been taken to prevent unnecessary call-outs.
“We charge now, for the most persistent. We will send a huge bill.
“We’ve done everything we can to prevent this from happening.
“It’s a hefty price to pay – £350 because someone’s burnt a bit of toast.”