Almost 10,000 false alarms were attended in the years 2023-24 across Dorset and Wiltshire, figures have shown.

A successful FOI request by the Journal revealed that 9,934 false alarms were attended by Dorset & Wiltshire fire service (DWFS) between January 2023 - May 2024. This is 49 per cent of the total number of callouts the service attended in that period, which was 20,223.

Of these false alarms, 495 were in Salisbury alone.

DWFS has 50 fire stations across  Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole, Dorset, Swindon, and Wiltshire – with over 1,000 wholetime and on-call firefighters and over 70 fire engines.

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The report also revealed that the top three places for false alarms were: sheltered housing (1,653), multiple occupancy buildings/dwellings/flats/maisonettes up to three storeys (1,584) and single occupancy buildings/dwellings/houses (1,103).

From April 2023 - April 2024, the three highest causes of fire were: heat sources and combustibles brought together deliberately, overheating and appliance faults.

A spokesperson from DWFS said: "The Service never knowingly attends a false alarm, we attend emergencies that have been reported to us via a 999 call. Where it later becomes clear that the incident was a false alarm, then we will always look to see whether there are ways of preventing similar call-outs in future.

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire ServiceDorset & Wiltshire Fire Service (image: Newsquest)

"This can include the work done by our Protection teams in giving advice to businesses on how to reduce the risk of unwanted fire signals, or the education work undertaken by our Prevention teams.

"However, if someone believes there is a fire or another issue requiring our immediate assistance, they should always call 999 – we would rather attend a false alarm than not attend a genuine emergency."

Unwanted fire signals have a major impact on the Service and cause concern for the following reasons:

  • They potentially render fire crews unavailable for genuine emergency calls.

  • They create unnecessary risk to fire crews and members of the public when fire appliances respond under emergency conditions.

  • They are disruptive to planned work, training and community fire safety activities.

There is much you can do to protect your family and your home from the danger of fire – the key things to remember are:

  • Fit a working smoke alarm

  • Take care when cooking and never leave cooking unattended

  • Plan and practise your escape route

  • Make a bedtime checklist

  • Don’t overload your electrics

  • Put cigarettes right out

  • Use candles carefully

  • Have your chimney swept regularly

For more information about safety at home, visit: