FALSE alarm call outs to Glasgow high schools have cost the fire service nearly £1 million in the past four years, the Glasgow Times can reveal.

New figures show fire fighters were called out to city secondaries a total of 494 times between 2018 and April this year.

Fire bosses said each false alarm – which they dub Unwanted Fire Alarm Signal (UFAS) – costs the service an average of £1970, totalling £973,180 for Glasgow schools.

The worst offender was Bannerman High School in Baillieston, where fire crews were called out to false alarms 58 times in that period.

Numbers obtained under Freedom of Information legislation also revealed Govan High School to have 35 calls outs and St Paul's High in Pollok had 32.

Shawlands Academy came next with 27 false alarms while Rosshall Academy, King's Park and Eastbank Academy all had more than 20.

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Labour councillor Soryia Siddique described the number of alarm call outs and their cost as "very concerning".

She said: "The cost and impact of false fire alarms is very concerning.

"There appears to be a need for education and engagement with learners on the consequences of false fire alarms and effective solutions." 

While some of the call outs are fire alarm faults, others are caused by pupils maliciously triggering the fire alarm.

This disrupts class time while the whole school is evacuated and takes up valuable fire service resources - including up to three fire engines for each call - as the alarm is investigated.

David Murdoch, SFRS's Local Senior Officer for Glasgow, said: “Unfortunately, most signals from these fire alarm systems are not actual fires – they are false alarms and can be caused by a number of factors.

"We want to get the message out there that Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals (UFAS) have an impact on our emergency responders.

"They lead to our crews being called out unnecessarily. This disrupts our training and community safety work, as well as our availability for real emergencies.

"In terms of school premises, we continue to work closely with the local authority, police and other partners to raise awareness of the issue.”

The revelation comes as Bannerman High School came under fire again this week with teaching staff who are NASUWT union members threatening to walk out over claims of unacceptable pupil behaviour.

Council bosses said the authority and the school will “continue to work with unions and their members to make sure everyone feels valued and respected".

In 2020 the Glasgow Times told how the campus police officer at All Saint's Secondary stepped in after pupils repeatedly misused the school fire alarm.

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Head teacher Brain Feeney said at the time: "A firework had been set off just around the school door and smoke wafted back in, setting off the fire alarm.

"Unfortunately, sometimes you give pupils an idea... and we very quickly had three false fire alarm activations."

A Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: “Some of these incidents will be due to a fault in the system and there’s robust processes in place to identify faults.

“However, some will also be alarms set off as part of a prank and this is a drain on the valuable time of our emergency services and schools work in partnership with SFR to educate pupils about the impact of tampering with alarms.

“To date our schools have not been charged for any false alarms and this is a timely reminder for parents and carers to also talk to their children about the consequences of this type of behaviour on the school, fire and rescue and the wider community if services are being directed away from real emergencies.”

East Renfrewshire schools also have seen a rise in the number of false alarm call outs in the past few years.

A freedom of information request regarding the local authority's seven secondary schools showed 105 call outs in the same time period.

The most call outs were to Mearns Castle High School with 33.

St Ninian's High School, which regularly tops school league tables, had 19 while Williamwood High School had 11.

An East Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “Schools work extremely hard to regularly reinforce with pupils the importance of fire safety and the impact that malicious and accidental activations can have. 

"A large proportion of false alarms are as a result of accidental activation, and where instances of deliberate mischief are identified appropriate action is taken to educate and deal appropriately with those responsible. 

"We work closely with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service colleagues on an ongoing basis to tackle this issue.

"Any costs associated with false alarms are not met by individual schools or the council."