Highland sees a welcome reduction in number of unwanted fire alarm signals (UFAS)

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Area Manager John MacDonald presented SFRS's third quarter report to member of the Highland scrutiny committee today on behalf of Local Senior Officer Scott Hay

AM John Mac Donald

Close partnership working between Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and duty holders has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of unwanted fire alarms signals (UFAS) across Highland.

Area Manager John MacDonald today presented the service’s third quarter report on behalf of Local Senior Officer for Highland, Scott Hay (1 October 2015 to 31 December 2015) to members of the local scrutiny committee in Inverness.

He revealed that UFAS numbers had dropped from 749 during the third quarter of 2014/15 to 688 for the same period of 2015/16.

In addressing the number of UFAS incidents across Scotland, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) introduced a national UFAS Reduction Procedure on 1 December 2014. The key aim of this procedure is the implementation of a standard management model to reduce the number of unwanted alarm signals across all areas of Scotland.

Area Manager John MacDonald said: “It is pleasing to note a decrease in the number of Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals (UFAS). This is primarily due to a targeted approach and close working with duty holders with the overall aim of reducing this type of activity in line with the Service's UFAS Reduction Procedure.”

The report also revealed a significant reduction in the number of accidental house fires from 109 in 2014/15 down to 88 in 2015/16.

AM MacDonald added: “The Service works closely with partner agencies and communities to reduce the number of accidental dwelling house fires through the delivery of targeted home fire safety visits and the installation of free smoke detectors.

“Supporting the targeted delivery, partner agencies routinely share data to assist with identifying residents that would benefit from this free service, aiming to reduce the risk of fire and harm to householders and their property.”

SFRS staff also work very closely with other agency staff in the delivery of alcohol brief interventions (ABI) and falls prevention advice. Both activities allow a wider delivery of essential risk identification and safety information for those most vulnerable in our communities. SFRS staff will routinely refer those who may benefit from support and assistance to the appropriate agencies and partners with a reciprocal referral process for home safety back to SFRS.

Non-fatal house fire casualties also fell from 23 in 2014/15 to 17 for the same period this year.

AM MacDonald commented: “The ongoing prevention work being delivered by SFRS staff and partner agencies has delivered the lowest figure for this reporting period over the last 5 years and this is extremely encouraging, however it is essential that we maintain that progress and continue to seek a reduction in these figures, thereby delivering positive outcomes for our communities.”

Deliberate fires also fell from 141 in 2014/15 to 103 for the same period in 2015/16.

AM MacDonald said: “Deliberate fires include those as a result of fire related antisocial behaviour (ASB) and wildfires. Analysis of the overall incidents and the periods in when they occur, identify seasonal variations e.g. muirburning season and school holiday periods.

“The Service has introduced a number of fire reduction strategies and thematic action plans targeting these types of incidents.

“The Service is working with partner agencies to reduce these incidents overall. Examples of which include the promotion of fire reduction through the Safer Highland ASB Group and the Inverness Response team where early intervention from partner agencies addresses occurrences right at the point of reporting.

“We also continue to promote best practice and partnership working through the Scottish Wildfire Forum (SWF) and targeting key groups ahead of known peak wildfire and muirburning periods.”

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