Thousands of pounds are being wasted on firefighters being sent out on automatic alarm calls where there is no fire.
Figures obtained by the Observer show fire crews were called out to 164 incidents in Hyndburn in the last 12 months, costing £139,072.
The costs of each of these call-outs works out at £848 per hour, based on each incident lasting one hour and including the salary, national insurance contributions and other costs per member of the fire service called to the incident.
There were 83 unneccesary automatic alarm call-outs in Accrington in the last 12 months, 20 in Clayton-le-Moors, 20 in Great Harwood, 14 in Oswaldtwistle, 10 in Altham, six in Rishton, six in Church and five in Huncoat.
John Taylor, from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said it was an issue facing all fire and rescue services, but reassured that public safety had not been compromised in any of the examples.
He said: “Clearly there are a number of occasions when the fire alarm has activated when it shouldn’t have – a fault, or in an institution such as a college or hospital typically, by malicious activation.
“But there are of course the genuine fire calls to consider and they underpin our willingness to turn out regardless, just in case it’s a genuine call.
“The debate in fire and rescue services has for many years been on how to cut down on the inherent waste of false alarms in automatic fire alarm apparatus.
“Good maintenance of systems can reduce, although not eliminate them.
“An automatic 999 call in large multi storeyed, multi roomed premises where attendance can be critical in terms of life risk is a compelling incentive to turn out regardless of the possibility that it may be another false alarm.”
Mr Taylor added that these costs would be incurred whether the crew were on a call to a false alarm, a genuine emergency or undertaking duties at their fire station.
He said: “The time of the Fire and Rescue service could be better spent than being out on a false alarm.
“But if a genuine emergency were to arise while engaged in that turn out, they would be diverted to the emergency once sure that the initial call was a false alarm.”