NEWS that fire chiefs are thinking of charging for turning out to false fire alarms is, well, alarming.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service says they have some organisations and businesses that are ‘serial offenders’ due to poor servicing or continual system faults. And although such a move could bring in well over £½m for the service with a call-out fee of £350 plus VAT, fire chiefs say it would be to cover costs.

The move just leaves so many questions hanging. How could they prove the false alarms were due to a perpetual and unresolved system fault?

And, worryingly, schools, hospitals and care homes are among the worst offenders – the most vulnerable in society – and it could be they have many alarms as the systems are, quite rightly, highly sensitive.

Some more unscrupulous companies may even be tempted to turn their systems off to avoid possibly being charged or not call the fire service if the alarm has gone off, potentially putting lives at risk.

It’s a proposal that’s certainly going to need some careful thought about in terms of how it could be implemented fairly and safely.