South Ayrshire Fire and rescue crews spent just 20 per cent of their time dealing with actual fires, a new report has revealed.

False alarms accounted for more than 60 per cent of Scottish Fire and Rescue callouts in the area between April and December 2022 – an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year.

On Wednesday, South Ayrshire Council’s Partnership Panel will hear that  just 0.84 percent of these false alarms were recorded as malicious.

Most of the false alarms were as a result of automated alarm systems, which accounted for around a third of all South Ayrshire fire service callouts.

These alarms are often caused by cooking fumes, dust or a lack of maintenance

False alarms in homes (18.5 per cent)  and calls made with ‘good intent’ (7.7 per cent) made up the remainder.

In a bid to reduce unnecessary call outs, Scottish Fire and Rescue will stop attending automatic fire alarm (AFA) call outs to commercial business and workplace premises, such as factories, offices, shops and leisure facilities unless a fire has been confirmed.

In a statement on their website, they say: “Our control room operators will now be asking anyone who reports a fire alarm to check whether there is an actual fire or signs of fire, before sending the nearest resource.”

However, this will not apply to hospitals, care homes, hotels or domestic dwellings.

While fires accounted for just over a fifth of callouts, special services, which deal with matters such as road collisions and flooding, stood at 16.7 percent of total activity.

The majority of fires in South Ayrshire happened in the Ayr North ward where there were 19 accidental house fires and 42 deliberate fires between April and December 2022.

The number of accidental house fires in South Ayrshire has risen by 25 per cent compared to the same period the year before.

Despite a rise in the number of accidental house fires, the number of casualties dropped by 22 per cent on the previous year.

Ayr North had the highest number of accidental house fires by head of population.

It had 11 incidents for every 10,000 people, compared to 5.7 in Ayr East, and 5.3 in Ayr West.

Outwith Ayr, Girvan and South Carrick had the highest number of incidents, with 7.2 per 10,000 people, followed by Maybole, North Carrick and Coylton (5.8), Troon (4.8), Kyle (3.7) and Prestwick (2.8).

Only a quarter of house fires required ‘direct firefighting’.

The reasons for accidental house fires has also be assessed by the service. It determined that 21 per cent were a result of ‘distraction’ and 12 per cent down to alcohol/drug impairment.

There were a total of seven house fire casualties between April and December. – three in Ayr North, three in Maybole, North Carrick and Coylton and one in Girvan and South Carrick. This is down from nine last year.

Two were taken to hospital – one with serious and one with slight injuries.

The other five were treated with first aid at the scene.

While fire casualties were low, Fire and Rescue had to deal with 67 casualties, 11 of which were fatal, when they attended non-fire incidents.

There was a 37 per cent increase in the number of incidents involving ‘unintentional injury and harm’, 61 per cent of which are a result of road collisions.

A further 34 per cent resulted from  assisting other agencies. Three percent were recorded as water rescue with all other incidents accounting for one percent of the total.

As well as 11 deaths, six people were hospitalised with serious injuries, 35 with slight injuries and four were given first aid at the scene.

The highest number of casualties came from Maybole, North Carrick and Coylton (14) and Ayr East (13). The lowest were Ayr North and Troon (both 6), Prestwick (5) and Kyle (4).

The number of deliberate fires in South Ayrshire dropped dramatically, from 253 in 2021/22 to 182 in 2022/23 – lower than at any point over the last six years.

Deliberate fires are broken down into primary and secondary fires.

Primary fires involve a casualty or rescue, has more than five fire engines attending or happens at a non-derelict building, vehicle or other specified structure.

These accounted for just eight percent of 182 deliberate fires.

The remaining 92 percent were secondary fires, generally taking place outdoors, refuse fires or derelict buildings.