UNWANTED fire alarms in Inverclyde have cost the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service more than £3 million in the last three years.

Fire chiefs have now launched an awareness project in the area to alert people to how they might set off a fire alarm by mistake while at work.

An unwanted fire alarm signal (UFAS) is when detection systems react to the likes of steam, cigarette smoke or cooking and send an unnecessary alert to the fire service.  Statistics show most of these cases are caused by a human action.

The data – due to be presented in a report to the police and fire scrutiny board – also shows unwanted fire alarm incidents went up by five per cent last year.

They accounted for almost half of all false alarms in Inverclyde in 2018/19.

Every unwanted fire alarm costs businesses an average of £848 in lost revenue and production and each incident costs the fire service just under £2,000.

In July last year, prevention and protection (P&P) managers from East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde (ERRI) launched a reduction project across all NHS premises in Inverclyde after working in partnership with Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board.

This saw posters displayed in all staff areas asking employees to think about their actions and how they could inadvertently activate an alarm.

Now a campaign has been launched aimed at the general public, called Be Aware.  It will initially target public sector buildings, with visible posters displayed in common, waiting and utility areas highlighting the common causes of unwanted fire alarms such as smoking and aerosol use.

The report says: “It is evident UFAS incidents are an ongoing concern for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

“Every unwanted fire alarm costs UK businesses on average £848 in lost revenue and production, resulting in continuous disruptions daily.

“These incidents subsequently affect the safety of the community, SFRS community engagement activities, firefighter training and station work routines.

“Statistics show the majority of UFAS incidents are caused by human action.

“The team have worked closely together with other local P&P managers to implement a UFAS education and awareness campaign aimed at the public.

“P&P managers are reviewing all UFAS policies and processes in line with our continuous improvement framework.  “We are engaging with our managers and firefighters across all our local stations.”

There were 1,598 total fire incidents in 2018/19 in Inverclyde, and more than half were false alarms.