Fire crews to attend automatic fire alarms no longer

Fire Industry Association LogoIn a bid to lower how many calls there are to false alarms, it has been decided that fire crews will no longer be sent to Automatic Fire Alarms (AFA).

According to This is Cheshire, a 999 call will need to made from someone at the premises before a fire engine responds and this must be between 09:00 and 17:00 GMT.

If it is outside of those hours, the centre that receives an alarm will get in touch with the premises and, if there is no answer, a fire engine will still be sent. During 2012/13, crews attended more than 2,500 AFAs as a result of systems either being activated by accident or set off by fumes produced by cooking.It transpired only 29 of these calls involved a fire, which meant the overwhelming majority (98.7 per cent) of the callouts could have been avoided.

Head of community fire protection Keith Brooks said AFAs cost businesses time and money, and also mean firefighters are not able to attend genuine emergencies and other duties that are required of them.

“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,” he added.

In January, the London Fire Brigade announced it would fine firms if they had more than ten false alarm callouts in a year.

James Cleverly, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said the public deserved and expected firefighters to be available to attend genuine emergencies, rather than attending thousands of false alarms.

He commented that the vast bulk of automatic fire alarm calls turned out not to be fires, but were often caused by poor management or maintenance of alarm systems.

It is estimated false alarms cost the UK in excess of £1 billion a year. Have a look at the Fire Industry Association’s microsite about how to cut such costs.

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.