Croydon firefighters attend five false alarms a day costing taxpayers £1.45m a year.

Despite a reduction of 28 per cent in the last decade, a fire engine was called to 1,718 false alarms in the borough last year, new figures show.

In London, a fire engine was called every 12 minutes to a false alarm. Over a third of all emergency calls are to false alarms, with 40, 839 attended across London last year.

Of these over 27,000 calls were to commercial or public buildings, and were mainly due to faulty or badly maintained automatic alarm systems.

Chris Bigland, borough commander for Croydon said such calls impacted on the brigade's ability to attend real incidents.

He said: "We can't keep sending our crews out to non existent fires, particularly when a little extra care and attention from the owners or managers of buildings could solve this problem.

"This is about the brigade being able to do the job people expect it to - attend real emergencies. The management of these alarm systems must improve so that our crews are not sent to needless call outs."