Reducing automatic fire alarms
Reducing automatic fire alarms – Next Steps
In June 2013 we changed the way we respond to automatic fire alarm (AFA) calls.
If your premises fall into any of the following ‘In Scope’ categories you will have been within the scope of the changes we introduced:
In Scope Premises
- Any industrial premises
- Any commercial premises.
- Any office.
- Any shop.
- Any licensed premises - with no sleeping risk.
- Any place of Worship.
- Any public building.
Our fire crews no longer automatically respond to calls generated by AFA systems in these types of premises during the day within the working week unless there is a confirmed report of fire at the premises. However premises where people sleep, or may be more vulnerable have seen no changes unless a problem is highlighted with the fire alarm.
The changes have reduced the risk to the public by ensuring our fire appliances are more available for real emergencies.
We have worked with businesses to address the issue of false alarms over the last few years, seeing some reductions. The changes have ensured that emergency resources have been used efficiently to deliver an effective response to real emergencies; being based on the very high likelihood that these alarms are either false or caused by system or design problems.
The changes have reduced unnecessary risks to the public in two key areas:
- Appliances, equipment and crews have been available for real emergencies rather than attending false fire alarm calls.
- A reduction of over 400 unnecessary ‘blue light’ movements during 2013/14.
Our Current Approach
If your AFA system operates and your premises fall within the categories above, we require confirmation that a fire (or perception of fire i.e. a smell of smoke) is at the premises via a 999 call before an emergency response will be made by NF&RS.
This currently applies during week day periods (Monday to Friday), between the hours of 0700 and 1900 hrs.
Outside of these hours and during bank holidays an immediate emergency response is made regardless of premises type.
Premises with high levels of false fire alarms
Premises with high levels of false alarms from AFA systems are reviewed. This could result in NF&RS suspending an automatic emergency response to an AFA signal, requiring a confirmation 999 call from the premises that fire, or perception of fire is at the premises before we will respond to your premises.
If we implement this arrangement at your premises, this could apply for any time of day, or day of the week; and would remain in place until we are satisfied that your fire alarm problems have been rectified.
We advise that if your premises has either 1) three or more confirmed false fire alarms in a five day rolling period; or 2) five or more confirmed false fire alarms in a 13 week rolling period; our response to automatic fire alarm activations at your premises will be reviewed.
The suspension criteria will not apply to hospitals, domestic dwellings, Sheltered housing, Schools or flats, however the service will still seek engagement with you to rectify the problem.
We want to make it absolutely clear that all reports of fire or perception of fire at any premises will always receive an immediate emergency response.
Premises with Links to Fire Alarm Monitoring Organisations
Buildings, and in particular business premises in contract with Fire Alarm Monitoring Organisations (FAMOs) or Fire Alarm receiving Centres (ARCs) should check that their key holder arrangements and details are kept up to date.
Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service reiterate the importance of keeping premises key holder details up to date with your FAMO / ARC as we will not do this for you.
By regularly reviewing your key holder details with your FAMO / ARC in conjunction with any out of hour’s response arrangements will support your business continuity arrangements.
Having reviewed our current emergency response arrangements to AFA’s we will be removing the time of day and day of the week criteria for premises within the ‘In Scope’ category. This will mean that as from 1st October 2014 premises falling within this category will be required to make a confirmation call via 999 once a fire has been confirmed or is perceived to be at the premises following activation of the AFA system. This arrangement will apply at any time of day or day of the week.
The new arrangement will commence on the 1st October 2014 at 0700hrs.
We would reiterate the importance of having up to date key holder information with your FAMO or ARC to enable your designated key holder to be informed of any fire alarm activation during periods when the premises is likely to be unoccupied.
Further Advice on Managing Fire Alarms