Burned toast and Storm Arwen led to increase in Merseyside fire call outs

More than 20,000 emergency calls were received - among them were 6,034 false alarms where officers attended.

People burning toast, Storm Arwen and coronavirus lockdowns led to an increase in calls received by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service last year.

The number of key incidents dealt with during the last financial year have been outlined in a comprehensive report to the service.

Assessing the period from April 2021 to March this year, the report identified that almost 22,700 emergency calls were received during that period and an attendance at more than 18,000 individual incidents.

Among them were 6,034 false alarms where officers attended, an increase of 537 on the year previously.

The report said while the majority of those calls were due to accidental or careless occurrences, “burnt toast incidents” also accounted for firefighters needing to be called out.

Thirty-nine percent of all incidents attended by Merseyside firefighters were for the purpose of dealing with an actual fire.

The number of “good intent” false alarm calls exceeded its annual target of 1,743, coming in at 2,334 in the 12 months analysed in the document. Of the increase in calls, the report said the coronavirus pandemic played a role.

It said: “This reflects the increase in all incident types this year when compared to 2020/21 – when Covid restrictions were in place for much of the period, meaning the majority of Merseyside residents spent more time at home. Life has gradually returned to normal during this year.”

The bonfire period in November 2021 led to “a predictable increase in calls” to the fire service, according to the report, as well as Storm Arwen during the same month. However, a period of drier weather last Spring led to the number of fires being attended to going up, particularly in April 2021.

Sunlight reflecting off mirrors causes serious fire

The report said: “This cumulative dry period therefore has an impact on fires and anti-social behaviour (ASB) and even impacted Accidental Dwelling Fires where 16 incidents involved fire that started externally to a home, which then damaged the outside, therefore, it is not just ASB that dry and hot weather affects.” Calls to anti-social behaviour fires were higher in 2021/22 at 3,362 than the year previously (2993) but remained within 10% of the service’s target of 3,208.

The report said: “Since a peak in April (when 610 incidents took place), incident counts have fallen and remained relatively consistent.” It added that had the Spring heatwave not occurred, “in all likelihood the annual target would have been achieved.” Fires at houses have increased, alongside consequent fatalities and injuries, as per the report, but also remain below targets.

The document outlined 284 injuries were recorded as a result of road traffic collisions, up by 52, while 17 people were killed. Cumulatively 96.9% of 999 calls were answered within 10 seconds, almost 1% better than the 96% target.

Deliberate car fires have also gone up across Merseyside in the last financial year, with 402 compared to 306 in 2020/21. However, this represented a decrease in the period between 2018-2020.