Unwanted fire alarms - passengers react angrily to Birmingham Airport evacuation

June 24th, 2019

If ever the effects of an unwanted fire alarm needed to be emphasised, the reputational impact of social media posts from angry travellers who were evacuated from Birmingham airport are a prime example.

Reports that the airport was being evacuated hit the news on Sunday 23 June. A statement made to the Birmingham Mail by an airport spokesperson the following day revealed that “A fire detector head alarmed in the Factory Bar in the departure lounge.”

Whilst Tecserv cannot speculate about the factors that may have caused the detector to activate, there would appear to have been many lessons that the airport can learn from the feedback from passengers that would also benefit most businesses.

Staff training

Passengers reported that airport staff were unaware of what to tell them.

In any incident there should be a protocols in place and staff given training as to what to do in emergency evacuation scenario’s. This should be part on an induction process for all employees and repeated regularly so it Is not forgotten.

Communication

Part of this training will include communications. All staff should be made aware of the statements they can make to reassure passengers and know how to lead them to safety.

Equipment maintenance and inspections

The airport will no doubt be inspecting their fire alarm logs to understand when the detector was last inspected and serviced. It is a well known fact that a fire alarm system that is routinely inspected and maintained will lead to a reduction in the number of false alarms.

The type and position of a fire detector can also be the cause of unwanted alarms. It is important to ensure the most appropriate detectors are installed according to their location and any environmental factors that may inadvertently trigger an alarm.

Summary

Fortunately, this evacuation was not triggered by a real fire, but the impacts are all real for everyone to see.

Reputational damage from the disparaging social media posts. The cost and inconvenience of delayed or missed flights, and the knock-on financial impact of paying airport staff overtime, flight path changes and pilot and flight attendant changes are clear.

If false or unwanted alarms have inconvenienced your business, Tecserv UK has a range of fire alarm maintenance package to help ensure your systems are compliant and working effectively.