1 Jan 2010

Reduced response to fire alarms dangerous - union

7:36 pm on 1 January 2010

The firefighters' union says the Fire Service's decision not to respond to so many alarm activations in urban areas is short-sighted and dangerous.

The Fire Service's national commander, Mike Hall, has been quoted in the New Zealand Herald as saying that, under cutbacks due to be implemented shortly, fewer fire appliances will be sent to low-risk buildings in big cities. Low-risk buildings include those with sprinkler systems.

Nationally, one in four callouts in the last financial year was a false alarm.

The national secretary of the Professional Firefighters' Union, Derek Best, says the service is courting danger by reducing services to the lowest common denominator.

He says it is unfair that building owners who go to the trouble and expense of installing sprinklers will be punished with a reduced response to alarm activations.

The Fire Service could not be reached for comment.

The Wellington branch president of the New Zealand Property Council, Ian Cassels, is also concerned about the move, saying that false alarms could be reduced with better screening by the Fire Service.

Mr Cassels points out that urban property owners are the biggest funders of the Fire Service through fire levies.