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Firefighters called to 111 false alarms at Norfolk hospitals within a year

PUBLISHED: 17:21 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:21 07 November 2018

An early morning bus caught fire in Carleton Rode. Picture: Chris Bishop

An early morning bus caught fire in Carleton Rode. Picture: Chris Bishop

Archant

Firefighters were called out to 111 false alarms at Norfolk hospitals and NHS trusts within a year.

Cancer patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital may have to travel to Norwich. Photo: QEHCancer patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital may have to travel to Norwich. Photo: QEH

Figures from NHS Digital reveal that in the 12 months to March there were 326 false fire alarms in the county.

Nearly half of these incidents, some 161, were at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH). Firefighters were called to 32 of the false alarms but 129 of them did not receive an emergency response.

There were 53 false alarms at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn, of which three were attended by the fire service.

Figures also show firefighters attended 18 false alarms at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston, 44 at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust centres across the county and another 14 at Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust centres.

Firefighters attended 18 false fire alarms at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston between 2017/18. Picture: Sonya DuncanFirefighters attended 18 false fire alarms at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston between 2017/18. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Derek Sim, group manager, prevention and protection at Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, said false alarms could be caused by a range of events - from a mechanical system fault, to an alarm automatically reacting to what it believes to be a fire.

He added: “None of these scenarios can be ignored.

“Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service will always attend call outs to hospitals because of the high numbers of people on their sites at any given time – many of whom will be vulnerable through receiving care and treatment or undergoing operations.

“Our fire service teams work closely with our hospitals and trusts – regularly meeting to discuss and update actions and protocols around alarm activation, as well as being involved in planning and development as hospitals expand to meet demands on their services.

James Paget Hospital
Generic hospital
Accident and emergency
Ambulance
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2016James Paget Hospital Generic hospital Accident and emergency Ambulance Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2016

“This is also part of our extensive work across the entire community to reduce unwanted fire calls, and on prevention strategies to help reduce the number of fires in our county.”

Figures also show the number of false alarms at the QEH has increased by 47pc in five years, significantly higher than the national average of 12pc.

When asked what caused these false fire alarms and what could be done to reduce them, a QEH spokesman responded: “Our internal recording systems show we had 50 incidents reported in relation to fire safety with the fire service attending on only three occasions.”

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