THE fire service could stop attending automatic fire alarms in commercial buildings like shops and office blocks.

If this was put in place, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue would only attend a fire alarm if there is a confirmed blaze, in a bid to free up time for firefighters.

About 97 per cent of the 3,457 automatic alarms the service attended in business premises in the last three years turned out to be false alarms.

Fire crews wasted more than 1,000 hours investigating the cause of those false alarms - time which could have been better spent training, working in the community or being available to attend other, genuine incidents.

This would not apply to premises where people sleep, like hotels, hospitals or high-rise flats.

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“False alarms make up a massive proportion of the incidents fire-fighters are mobilised to,” said area manager Andy Strelczenie.

“Whilst we will always attend incidents when our services are definitely required, our frequent attendance at false alarms disrupts training and increases road risk to firefighters rushing on blue lights to incidents which later turn out to be false alarms.”

A paper outlining options for changing the service’s attendance at commercial automatic fire alarms will be discussed at the service’s governing fire authority on Monday.