Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MFRS) is urging people to think of the consequences of their actions after vandals left residents in a Liverpool high rise building without a working fire alarm system.
Crews were called to high rise accommodation on Cheapside shortly after midnight on Sunday 27th June after the fire alarm sounded, indicating a potential fire somewhere in the six storey building.
In line with MFRS’ pre-determined attendance to incidents involving high rise properties, four fire engines were sent to the scene as well as the aerial appliance. However, it soon became clear that the fire alarm had not activated due to a fire, but because it had been vandalised. This left residents with no working fire alarm for several hours, and tied up vital fire service resource.
Photographs show the LCD display of the main alarm appears to have been punched, with the nearby security camera and alarm call point also vandalised. MFRS’ Protection team remained at the premises until around 3am to ensure a suitable fire alarm system was in place and working correctly.
Fire alarm systems like this one are linked, with the main fire alarm panel used to easily identify where the fire is located, helping fire crews to quickly set up equipment and extinguish the fire without having to search every floor and flat of the building.
Had there been a fire anywhere in the building during this time, while the smoke alarm in the affected area would have sounded, the damage to the main fire alarm would have prevented it from activating, meaning emergency services would not be able to locate the fire as easily, increasing response times and ultimately putting lives at risk.
Station Manager Phil Byrne, from MFRS’ Protection (Legislative Fire Safety) team, said: “While this act of vandalism may seem inconsequential at first, it could have had very real and severe consequences. Fire alarm systems in high rise buildings are extremely important and provide residents with early warning in the event of fire. They also greatly aid emergency services in pinpointing the exact location of the fire, meaning we can deal with it quickly and efficiently with minimal disruption. This act of vandalism shows blatant disregard for the safety of those living within the building.
“This incident also tied up valuable fire service resources. Four fire engines and our aerial appliance attended this incident, which of course turned out to be a false alarm due to the damage caused. Had there been another significant in Merseyside during this time, our response would have been affected and lives could have ultimately been put at risk.”
MFRS is working with the police to find those responsible for the damage. Enquiries are ongoing and anyone with information is urged to contact Merseyside Police via social media on Twitter @MerPolCC or Facebook ‘Merseyside Police Contact Centre’ with reference 21000447438.
Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via their online form at: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/give-information.