Reducing automatic fire alarms

We are changing the way we respond to Automatic Fire Alarms

Businesses are advised that as from 1st June 2013 Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service will be changing the way we respond to calls from automatic fire alarm calls in certain premises.

If your premises fall into any of the following categories you may need to take action:

  • Any industrial premises.
  • Any commercial premises. 
  • Any office. 
  • Any shop. 
  • Any licensed premises - with no sleeping risk.
  • Any place of Worship. 
  • Any public building.

Under the changes, our fire crews will no longer automatically respond to calls originating from automatic fire alarms 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 will see no changes unless a problem is highlighted with the fire alarm.

The changes will reduce the risk to the public by ensuring our fire appliances are more available for real emergencies.

We have been working with businesses to address the issue of false alarms over the last few years, seeing some reductions. However we must continue to ensure that emergency resources are being used as efficiently as possible to deliver an effective response to real emergencies; and with the very high likelihood that these alarms are either false or caused by system or design problems, the Service, following consultation and consent will be introducing the changes from 1st June 2013.

The changes will reduce unnecessary risks to the public in three key areas:

  • Appliances, equipment and crews will be available for real emergencies rather than attending AFAs at factories, offices and other lower risk premises
  • A reduction in the number of ‘blue light’ road traffic movements. 
  • Reduce the number of unnecessary ‘blue light’ movements by over 500 calls each year.

From 1st June 2013

During week day periods (Monday to Friday), between the hours of 0700 and 1900 hrs, calls from Automatic Fire Alarm systems from the premises listed above will need to provide 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.

Outside of these hours and during bank holidays an emergency response will remain regardless of premises type.

Premises with high levels of false fire alarms

With the exception of hospitals, domestic properties, Sheltered housing, Schools and flats; any premises with a high level of false fire alarms will be reviewed. This may result in NF&RS 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 would 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 would 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. Therefore we would urge all premises with a history of false alarms to review their systems.

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

In preparation for this change we would advise that premises with fire alarms linked to Fire Alarm Monitoring Organisations ensure that they have arrangements in place to ensure up to date key holder information, in addition to procedures for calling the fire service during out of hours periods.

What Should You Do Now ?

If your premises are affected by these changes we would advise that you review your fire safety arrangements and review your procedures for when your fire alarm operates.
If your premises have a high level of false fire alarms caused by your fire alarm, then you should review your system and make the necessary changes to over come the problem.

Download Documents

Further Advice on Managing Fire Alarms

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