Changes to how fire service respond to automatic fire alarm calls

June 08th, 2017

It has always been the case that the emergency services will downgrade their response to a fire alarm call out to businesses where it has repeatedly attended automatic fire alarm calls where the call out has turned out to be an unwanted fire alarm signal (UwFS).

However, from 1 April 2017, it came to our attention that Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service will be amending its Policy and Procedures for dealing with automatic fire alarm calls (AFA) and it is likely that other Fire & Rescue Services across the UK already have, or will make, similar changes.

The announcement on their website states that Cheshire fire crews will not respond to any automatic fire alarm calls (AFAs) at the majority of business premises (including schools) unless a caller at the building reasonably believes that there is a fire.

The change means that a ‘999’ call will need to be made from someone at the premises, who reasonably believes that a fire has broken out. Only then will fire engines respond.

Fire safety managers at business premises need to be aware of this change and include it in their fire procedures and risk assessment. They also need to make their staff aware that, in the event of a fire, they should call 999 immediately.

Clearly this change will cause potentially life threatening delays whilst the exact source of the fire alarm activation is found and confirmed as a real fire. As each vital minute passes in which a fire engine could be on its way, there is a greater risk to lives and further damage to property.

This is a timely reminder to all persons with responsibility for fire assessment and safety of the importance of ensuring your fire alarm system is well maintained. Routine fire alarm maintenance and inspection helps to pre-empt potential issues from occurring and thus reduces the likelihood of an unwanted alarm.

Fire alarm maintenance is an essential part of the safety checks a company is legally bound to carry out in order to keep its employees and assets safe. Simply put, a fire alarm system is redundant if it does not operate effectively, placing the safety of your employees at risk and exposing you to prosecution.

As part of an ongoing strategy to ensure the optimum performance of your fire alarm systems you should consider one of Tecserv’s maintenance support packages.

We have a number of flexible options that we can tailor to meet your needs.  A maintenance support package not only ensures you have access to immediate support in the event of a system malfunction, it will also help with compliance record keeping and avoid emergency call costs.