TWENTY-TWO patients were evacuated from a ward at the Countess of Chester Hospital after smoke triggered a fire alarm.

Two members of the facilities team immediately went to the ward, which accommodates people being prepared for surgery or recovering afterwards, following the alarm at 3pm on Wednesday (January 7).

Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service arrived at the scene shortly afterwards on being alerted by the trust’s switchboard. Patients were moved to the adjacent ward 32 as a precaution while further investigations took place.

It became apparent the source of the smoke was from the chimney of a nearby house which had been drawn into the hospital’s roof-top air filter systems, setting off the alarm.

Patients and staff later returned to ward 33.

Assistant head of facilities, Dave Reardon, said: “No-one was harmed or disrupted and the incident was over within 15 minutes, after which time everyone had returned to the ward. While inconvenient, this false alarm highlights our ability to take contingency measures in the case of an emergency.”