Pupils at a Dundee school are being threatened with criminal action after a spate of fire alarms being set off “maliciously”.
A letter was issued to parents at Grove Academy in Broughty Ferry this week by fire chiefs, saying crews had been called to attend “a number of fire alarm activations” in the building.
Meanwhile a whistleblower also claims kids setting off alarms has been an issue at St John’s High School on a daily basis – saying there were five separate incidents in a single day recently.
Letter sent to parents
And on Monday night, police were called to Dundee city centre after reports that youngsters were deliberately setting off fire alarms in business premises.
Dundee City Council says it is not aware of anything connecting the incidents – but the fire service has warned that anyone involved is committing a crime.
The letter sent to Grove Academy parents, seen by The Courier, stated: “Some of these activations have been caused by a malicious act which is a criminal offence.
“This has an impact on our resources as it may prevent us from attending other emergency calls.
“This also has an impact on your child’s learning and every person and staff at the school due to the disruption caused whilst we carry out a search of the property to establish the cause.”
It also said that fire bosses will be working with Grove Academy to investigate the activations, with details potentially being passed to police and anti-social behaviour teams.
Meanwhile, police are investigating Monday’s incidents where fire alarms were deliberately set off in the city centre.
A video posted online showed officers chasing youths along Nethergate after being called to the area.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 7.50pm on Monday, officers were called to the Reform Street area of Dundee, following reports of youths entering buildings and setting off fire alarms.
“A search was carried out, with one of the responsible youths making their way to the Nethergate area before being lost to sight.
“Officers will continue to give attention to the Reform Street area, in case of further incidents.”
Each hoax call costs nearly £2,000
In August The Courier reported that there had been more than 1,500 unwanted fire alarms in schools since 2018.
False alarm call-outs cost the fire service about £1,970 each time and firefighters spend an average of 22 minutes at the scene.
As well as the cost to 999 crews, concerns have also been raised about the disruption setting off alarms in schools can have on pupils’ education.
David Baxter, from the EIS teaching union, said: “We are aware of this, members have been getting in touch saying there’s been a large amount of fire alarms.
“There are prelims going on just now. If you have one fire alarm, it’s one thing, but to have several in a day and you can’t get anything done is very frustrating.”
‘Every second counts in an emergency’
Stephen Wood, SFRS local senior officer for Dundee, Angus and Perth and Kinross, said: “While the service has plans and procedures in place to ensure that our communities are protected at all times, every second counts in an emergency.
“When firefighters have to attend any hoax call there is the chance they could be taken away from incidents where lives are at risk.
“Making a malicious call to the emergency services is a criminal offence and we will always work with our partners at Police Scotland to identify those responsible.
“However, we will continue to work with our partners, schools, communities and duty holders to maintain a positive and effective approach in reducing unwanted fire alarms and the number of unnecessary blue light journeys.”
A Dundee City Council spokesperson said: “We work closely with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to remind pupils how irresponsible it is to set off false fire alarms.
“Quite simply this behaviour puts lives at risk by unnecessarily taking up the time of crews and equipment and potentially delaying them from attending a real emergency.
“We always ask for the support of families in getting the message home to their children on this hugely important issue.”