TENS of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being wasted in Bolton every year due to automatic alarms, new figures show.

Fire crews go to community buildings such as hospitals when automatic alarms sound — but there is an emergency in less than one per cent of the time, the fire service said.

Bolton crews have set up regular meetings with the Royal Bolton Hospital — the main offender in the town — to try to tackle the problem.

The four main stations in Bolton have spent about £170,000 on call-outs to automatic alarms.

Bolton borough manager, Ian Bailey, said: “After every false alarm we attend, the officer in charge will find out how it has happened and what we can do to prevent it happening in the future.

“In Bolton we’re working hard with the Royal Bolton Hospital and other premises to reduce unwanted fire alarms.

“Regular meetings are held between the hospital and a fire safety officer and we regularly review the five locations outside the hospital which are causing the most false alarms.”

In the 12 months up until the end of June, crews based at Bolton Central Fire Station in Moor Lane were called out 148 times by automatic alarms at a cost of £400 a time —costing £59,200.

In the same period, crews based at Bolton North Fire Station in Moss Bank Way were called out 75 times at a total cost of £30,800.

Crews based at Horwich went out to 55 calls at a cost of £22,000, while crews in Farnworth went to 148 calls at a cost of £59,200.

The £400 figure takes into account staff wages, fuel and apparatus maintenance.

The Bolton News obtained the figures from Greater Manchester Fire Service (GMFRS) using the Freedom of Information Act.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority chairman Cllr David Acton said: “Firefighters find false alarms frustrating because it makes them unavailable for genuine incidents.

“We are also very concerned that people become oblivious to alarms if they sound too often when there is no fire.”

Royal Bolton Hospital’s fire, safety and risk manager Derek Bond said: “If an alarm is activated by a smoke or heat detector, or by an individual, our switchboard is notified immediately.

“In a number of cases, we are able to ascertain that it is not necessary for the fire service to attend. But if there is a risk that we believe needs to be investigated by them, then the switchboard calls 999.

“The vast majority of call outs are not false alarms but are made in good faith.”

“All staff receive regular fire training and we work closely with the fire service to reduce risk and minimise call-outs.”