FIRE crews will no longer be routinely sent to Automatic Fire Alarms (AFAs) in an attempt to reduce the number of calls to false alarms.

The new system will mean during 9am to 5pm a 999 call will need to be made from someone at the premises before a fire engine responds.

Outside those hours, the alarm receiving centre will contact the premises and if there is no answer, a fire engine will still be sent.

Keith Brooks, head of community fire protection, said: "AFAs cost business time, money and divert firefighters from genuine emergencies and other duties.

"Although emergency attendance to places where people sleep will not change nor will calls be challenged, the new procedure will help bring down false emergency calls in commercial premises."

During 2012-13 crews attended 2,547 AFAs as a result of systems either being activated accidentally or set off by cooking fumes.

Only 29 of these calls involved a fire meaning 98.7 per cent of the call outs could have been avoided.