ALWAYS READY: Inspector Barry Maluga remembers running out to jobs he knew were probably false alarms.
ALWAYS READY: Inspector Barry Maluga remembers running out to jobs he knew were probably false alarms. Andrew Thorpe

Building owners urged to cut down on false fire alarms

QUEENSLAND Fire and Emergency Services are appealing to businesses to work with firefighters to cut down on the number of unwanted automatic alarms.

Unwanted automatic alarm call-outs currently represent about 25 per cent of all fire and rescue responses, with about 64,000 incidents across Queensland in the 12 months to May 31.

Activations are charged to building owners if they have had other activations in the previous 60 days.

Inspector Barry Maluga remembers rushing out to jobs as a firefighter that he knew were probably false alarms.

"We treat every alarm as though it's the real deal... but some places just had them over and over again," he said.

"Often it was caused by workmen drilling or soldering pipes, but also with your residential properties it could have been steam from a shower, or just having smoke detectors too close to cooking."

Now the area director for the Biloela command, Insp Maluga is still based in Gladstone after spending 27 years fighting fires around the region.

He told The Observer about one incident in the 1990s when he and his crew responded to an alarm at the old City Theatre, now the GECC, which often set off alarms due to stage smoke.

"We just automatically assumed it was an unwanted alarm," he said.

"But when one of the guys went in the side door and onto the stage he found out pretty fast it was actually on fire.

"We were always ready after that."

Insp Maluga said the situation had improved, but unwanted alarms from automatic smoke detectors were still a regular feature of firefighters' days.

"We've got an Unwanted Alarms unit operating out of Brisbane," he said.

"They get (local firefighters) to go and have a look at why those alarms are activating.

"There are certain restrictions on what businesses can do with the alarm panel... so it's always best if people work with us."

Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford praised firefighters for their commitment to every call-out.

Mr Crawford also confirmed QFES records showed a continuing decline in the number of system-initiated false alarms, despite the number of buildings with automatic alarms rising over the past 12 years.



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