Fire crews in Cornwall were called out more than 4,800 times in the 12 months up to March this year – and almost half were false alarms.
This was revealed during an inspection report published yesterday on the performance of Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service.
It found improvements had been made since the last inspection, although the service was still judged as ‘requires improvement’.
However, what the inspection also revealed was the challenges the service faces – not least in the number of times fire crews were called out when there was no emergency.
While many would have been false alarms with good intent, the service reported on a number of occasions last year how hoax phone calls had seen resources tied up unnecessarily.
Out of the 4,826 incidents attended in the year leading up to March 2021,44% of them – 2,101 in total – were false alarms.
The second highest proportion were non-fire incidents, of which there were 1,601 (33% of the total). This would include callouts to issues such as road traffic collisions and flooding.
Actual fires came in last, with 1,124 incidents (23% of the total).
Up to the end of March 2021, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service responded to an average of 8.42 incidents per 1,000 people in the population – lower than the England average.
Home fire safety checks per 1,000 people and fire safety audits per 100 premises were also both below the national average, at 3.81 checks per 1,000 (to 4.47) and 1.75 audits (to 2.55) respectively.
However, the average availability of pumps was higher, with 89.2% available in Cornwall compared to 83.07% in England as a whole.
The cost of having firefighters was also found to be higher in Cornwall, with the average cost being £26.73 per person in Cornwall per year, compared to £23.82 nationally.
Cornwall goes against the national average when it comes to the overall number of firefighters available though, which rose
by 2.27% between 2015 and 2020, compared to a fall of 5.3% nationally.
It also has 1.05 firefighters per 1,000 people, compared to 0.63 nationally.
However, the number of full-time firefighters – as opposed to those who are ‘reserved’ and just called to work in event of an emergency – is half the national average, with just 32.38% being ‘wholetime’ compared to 65.1% across England.