More than a fifth of all calls to East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service – almost 40 a week – were false alarms in Brighton and Hove.
And almost three in ten calls were false alarms across the entire county of East Sussex, making almost half of calls to the fire service unnecessary.
Non-emergency lift rescues have also prevented fire crews from being available to deal with real emergencies at the rate of one every two days in Brighton and Hove.
Fire chiefs have now urged people to help reduce the number of false alarms and unnecessary lift rescues.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said: “In Brighton and Hove there were 1,913 false alarms in 2016-17.“
Of those, 1,359 were automatic fire alarms.
Fire crews were called out to people trapped in lifts in Brighton and Hove 181 times in the same year, compared with 157 across the entire county of East Sussex.
One incident in October involved freeing officers from a lift at the police station in John Street, Brighton.
Council flats have also accounted for dozens of lift breakdowns although Brighton and Hove City Council has been carrying out a lift replacement programme which should help.
The fire service said: “East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is beginning fresh efforts at reducing the number of false alarms and non-emergency lift calls.
“In the year 2016-17 the service responded on to 9,144 incidents.
“Of those, 4,514 (49.4 per cent) were false alarms including 3,177 from automatic fire alarm systems.
“There were 338 lift releases in the same period.
— Brighton&Hove Police (@BtonHovePolice) October 17, 2017
“Letters are now being sent to properties where there have been repeated call outs.
“The potential of a lift stopping between floors or lift doors failing to open is a foreseeable event that does not always require the attendance of our fire crews.
“We expect that the building’s owner or occupants have a way to deal with these non-emergency events when they happen.
“You should not rely on calling 999.
“You should make arrangements to provide a 24/7 non-emergency lift release service within a reasonable period of time, as well as communications facilities inside the elevator so a person can raise the alarm.”
Former Brighton and Hove fire commander Mark Matthews, now the assistant director of safer communities, said: “It’s important that we are not distracted from real emergencies by call outs which could have been prevented.
“The good news is that businesses, landlords and property owners can take some simple steps to reduce these types of calls.
“We are asking them to follow our advice and take responsibility for their premises and by doing so ensure our crews remain available for life-saving incidents.”
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