Cleveland Fire Brigade is to stop responding to automatic alarms during office hours in a bid to cut costs,
The brigade says the move is aimed at reducing time-wasting call-outs and encouraging businesses to ensure their systems are working properly.
The move, which the body says is in line with services across the country, comes with latest figures showing the service attended nearly 600 automatic alarms between 8am and 5pm in 2015/16 – of which just 12 were fires.
These changes do not affect houses, flats and other residential premises and the brigade says they will not put the public at risk.
From Monday, October 2, appliances will only be sent when there is evidence of a real fire rather than business alarms being accidentally activated through cigarette smoke, cooking fumes, dust or other minor causes.
The change applies to commercial premises, schools, public buildings and leisure complexes. During the day, when these premises are staffed, confirmation of a fire must be received through a 999 call.
Brigade Director of Community Protection Phil Lancaster said: "This approach puts the onus back on businesses to get their alarms properly maintained and help them reduce
their own costs.
"Every time they have to evacuate the building because the alarm has gone off can be hugely wasteful in terms of lost production and staff time. Sometimes this can all be down to something as simple as someone burning their toast or smoking too close to the alarm system.
"In these situations there is absolutely no reason for the fire service to be called out. Our new policy will mean crews are not detracted from real emergencies where lives could be at risk.
"We provide help, support and advice to businesses and other premises through fire safety audits where their systems and procedures can be thoroughly checked. These are carried out regularly but are also available on request."
Cleveland Fire Brigade will still attend automatic fire alarms outside office hours, weekends and Bank Holidays when fewer people are at work and there is a higher risk of alarm activation
signalling a real fire.
Between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays) , crews will not attend automatic fire alarms to low and medium risk premises unless a confirmation of fire is
received via 999.
These include businesses, schools, public buildings and leisure complexes and residential care homes.
Firefighters will attend high risk properties between 8am and 5pn. These include chemical sites and places with a “sleeping risk” such as - hospitals.
Special risk properties – heritage sites such as Ormesby Hall, Preston Park Hall and Wynyard Hall - are exempt from the new policy.