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London Fire Brigade uses Twitter to expose unnecessary firefighter call-outs

London Fire Brigade logo, LFB adopts twitter to highlight firefighter call out time consumption
LFB is using Twitter to draw attention to the amount of time spent by firefighters on unnecessary call-outs

London Fire Brigade is to use social networking website Twitter to highlight the amount of time its firefighters spend at call-outs to people who are stuck in lifts.

On April 1, the Brigade will be tweeting every time it is called to help someone stuck in a lift. Last year, the Brigade attended nearly 10,000 lift call-outs but of these, just 67 were medical emergencies.

The tweetathon coincides with the start of a tough new policy from the Brigade under which the owners of buildings and lifts will be charged if firefighters are called out to lifts in the same building three or more times in a year. In November 2009, the Brigade started charging on the tenth occasion in a year it attended a non-emergency lift release at the same building.

The Brigade says that when people are shut in lifts and their health is not at risk, lift engineers should be called rather than the Brigade. This would ensure that firefighters can attend incidents which pose a greater threat and carry out other important fire safety work. Fire chiefs hope that the tougher charges will encourage building and lift owners to maintain their lifts properly.

Chairman of London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority’s Community Safety Committee, Cllr Susan Hall said:  “The public should know just how much of the Brigade’s time is spent helping people stuck in lifts. Tweeting each time we get called to one of these incidents in a day is a great way of highlighting the problem. Firefighters will always attend if it is a real emergency but it’s not for us to routinely clear up after people do not properly maintain their lifts."

“Since we began tackling unnecessary lift calls-outs, we have freed up resources equivalent to £1 million. We are totally serious about cracking down even further on people who waste our time. Firefighters need to be available to attend real emergencies where it is a matter of life and death".

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