A cost-cutting plan to stop firefighters from responding to automatic fire alarms at businesses such as shops and pubs will come under the spotlight next week.

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Under the proposals, instead of turning out each time an automatic fire alarm sounded at a range of premises, firefighters would only turn up once there had been confirmation of a suspected fire.

Norfolk County Council’s fire and rescue overview and scrutiny panel meets on Monday to discuss the move, which would save the service about £30,000 a year.

It would apply to businesses ranging from shops, pubs, factories, as well as public buildings and churches, but not to people’s homes, schools and hotels.

Some 95pc of all automatic fire alarms attended by Norfolk’s fire and rescue service are false alarms, with a significant number caused by faulty or poorly designed and maintained systems.

Nigel Dixon, cabinet member for community protection, said: “Our fire and rescue service has been working hard to drive down the number of false alarms firefighters attend and the service achieved a total reduction of over 600 calls since April 2011.

“However, officers believe they can go further and become even more efficient without, crucially, compromising safety.”

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