LONE fire engines are now being sent to handle automatic fire alarm call-outs during the day.
The new policy, which has just come into force, has already been criticised over a lack of consultation with the public.
Only one engine was sent to a Huddersfield school after the fire alarm went off.
Smoke from a toaster had triggered the alarm at Highfields School in Edgerton.
And only one engine was sent to a fire alarm at Huddersfield New College.
Under the old policy several fire engines would have been sent in case the buildings had been on fire and people needed evacuating.
A West Yorkshire Fire Service spokesman said the change in policy was needed because a massive amount of money was wasted by sending several fire engines to automatic fire alarms.
He said if someone from the building had rung up to say it was on fire, a full turn-out would have been sent.
And he stressed that a full turn-out would be sent at night time when people were asleep and less mobile, and always to buildings deemed to be high risk such as hospitals and chemical works.
But during the day from 8am to 7pm, he said buildings could be evacuated quickly.
"This policy is being reviewed all the time in the light of any concerns which are raised about particular buildings," he added.
And he hit back at the claims over lack of consultation.
He said: "This was in our Risk Management Plan which was drawn up last autumn and then discussed with local authorities, parish councils, chambers of commerce, MPs and health authorities among many others."
West Yorkshire Fire And Rescue Service chiefs say £600,000 is being wasted countywide in working hours, fuel and wear and tear on fire appliances going to automatic fire alarms which have gone off accidentally or are faulty.
They also say it puts both firefighters and other road users at risk with more engines than necessary speeding to calls.
And they say a tragedy could be happening elsewhere and need an urgent response.
False alarms from automatic fire detection equipment has increased 16% over the four years to April, 2003 - amounting to 12,000 unwanted calls a year.
Four officers have been specially trained to target the worst-offending alarms and work with the companies who own them to sort the problem out.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer David Monks said: "It's not just the financial cost of fuel and vehicle wear and tear we are concerned about.
"Members of the public and firefighters are put at unnecessary risk when engines respond under `blue light conditions' to this type of alarm."
But the wife of a firefighter who works in the Kirklees area contacted the Examiner to speak of her concerns about the new policy.
She claimed it was a move to cut the service and potentially dangerous because there will be an inevitable delay in getting more fire engines to the scene if needed.
She asked: "Who was consulted on this change in policy?
"Certainly not the public. It is not in response to complaints about the standard of service.
"And does it mean council taxpayers can expect a reduction in the fire precept on their bills?"