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Changes to our Automatic Fire Alarm Policy 

 

Our new policy will not affect AFAs from domestic dwellings (e.g. houses, flats etc), those premises where people sleep (such as residential care homes, hospitals, hotels or boarding schools), and heritage sites (such as churches).

It does affect businesses such as offices, shops, factories, workshops, warehouses, schools, local authority buildings and other buildings occupied during normal working hours.

The change has been made because only 1 in 50 AFAs is caused by a real incident. In 2014 98% of the 2,000 AFAs responded to were false alarms, so in all but forty incidents fire appliances were sent to premises for no reason. In many cases AFAs caused repeated false alarms from the same premises. The change in our policy could reduce call outs to false alarms by over 400 a year.

Many false alarms are set off by avoidable causes such as building work, cooking, or the use of aerosols or other chemicals. We will work with repeat offenders to reduce their false AFAs, but if they do not stop their false alarms the Service could charge the culprits the cost of turning out needlessly.

If an appliance is sent to a false alarm it is not available for real emergencies, increasing the risk to local communities. There is also the financial cost of sending fire engines to false alarms and the cost and inconvenience of taking on-call Firefighters from their jobs or homes for no purpose.

AFAs are there to provide an early warning of a fire that would otherwise not be detected, usually when the building is not occupied. If there are employees present in a building who would quickly notice a fire if one breaks out then alarms that could be set off accidentally by common issues like building work, aerosols or cooking could be isolated or switched off by building managers to reduce the chance of a false alarm.

BFRS will continue to respond to all AFAs out of office hours, however there is an expectation that whilst a property is occupied any automatic alarm will need to be followed up by a call from the location, a call from a passer-by or from another emergency service to verify it is a real emergency.