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False Fire Alarm Management

Preventing false fire and intruder alarm activations begins by ensuring that all systems and equipment is regularly inspected and maintained.

This schedule of fire system maintenance inspections should also be supported with effective policies and procedures that educate users of your premises about the dangers of unwanted or false alarm activations and how their actions can have serious, even fatal consequences.

One of the many impacts of too many  false alarm incidents is that people begin to ignore an alarm when it is activated. This places lives at risk, particularly if the activation is due to a real threat, but the occupants choose not to take the alarm seriously and fail to take the required action.

Also, too many false or unwanted fire alarm activations can adversely affect insurance premiums, the reputation of your brand, and the response you will receive from the emergency services.

False Fire Alarm – The negative implications one can cause

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Emergency services response

Hundreds of thousands of false fire alarm incidents are attended by fire and rescue services each year. The emergency service recognise that false alarms cannot be eradicated completely but in order to cut down the man hours wasted by attending false alarms a new system was introduced in 2005 which aims to reduce false alarms to lower levels.

The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) publishes the Model Agreement for its Policy to reduce false activations from remotely monitored fire alarm systems (RMFAs).

This Policy now requires that all intruder alarms and personal address applications that require an urgent police response must request a unique reference number (URN). Using this registration scheme the Fire and Rescue Service (F&RS) intends to identify and monitor the performance of fire alarm systems. Systems generating an unacceptably high number of false alarms will have the F&RS response level to their RMFA either reduced or withdrawn completely.

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Reasons for false alarms

The following are examples of problems that may cause an unwanted fire alarm activation:

  • Dust
  • Faulty equipment
  • Weak batteries
  • Acts of nature (strong winds etc)
  • Building occupants smoking or cooking near detectors
  • Human error and tampering
  • Incorrectly positioned detection devices triggered by false fire signals e.g. steam

Implications of False Fire Alarms

The implications of false fire alarms are far reaching and can include:

  • Damage to reputation and brand credibility
  • Loss of response by fire and rescue services
  • Lost revenue and productivity caused by building evacuations
  • Danger to people and property
  • Negative impact on insurance cover and premiums

How to avoid false fire and intruder alarm activations

Regular maintenance and inspection of fire alarm system and intruder alarms to ensure all detection systems are working effectively.

Making sure the fire log book is updated so there is an accurate record of equipment checked at every service visit.

Keeping a log of the location and cause of false alarms will help to spot any trends.

Ensure staff are educated and trained on fire safety policies and procedures and understand the kind of activities that will cause a false alarm.

Only use accredited maintenance companies and reviewing your requirements regularly.

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A guide to fire safety in the workplace

This guide provides business owners and responsible individuals with a reference
document regarding their legal responsibilities in respect of fire safety in the workplace.


A guide to fire risk assessments

This guide explains what’s involved in a fire risk assessment and the legal requirements your business needs to meet.


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