Will the Fire Service come to save YOUR business premises?

Apr 4, 2020 | Fire Safety

False alarms are a terrible waste of resources and finances. As a result, many Fire and Rescue Services are taking bold measures to rein in waste. This is a positive move on the face of it.

But it does pose a difficult question for your Responsible Person. Especially if s/he is working from home because of the lockdown…

Is your business set up to confirm a fire alarm alert is genuine?

Bold measures to reduce false alarms

The NFCC produced guidance to combat false alarms in 2014. Many regional fire services have put that guidance in place.

From April 1st, Lincolnshire and Avon Fire and Rescue Services have followed suit. They now need confirmation before attending a fire.

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UK Fire Engine

Will they come? It depends… is your premises high-risk or low-risk?

There’s two things for businesses to consider. Are you deemed low-risk? And has your Fire Service put the NFCC guidance in place?

If both are true, the Fire Brigade will not come, unless:

  • you, the occupier of the premises, confirm the fire is real
  • a separate 999 call confirms it

There are exemptions…

Domestic premises and those with sleeping accommodation are classed high-risk. As such, these premises will still get a full response to an alarm. As will:

  • Primary Care Trust Hospitals and Private Hospitals
  • COMAH sites
  • Heritage premises
  • Critical national infrastructure
  • Educational establishments
  • Other premises deemed high-risk at a local level

If you don’t have an alarm you rely on the public to spot the fire and dial 999.

Even with an automated alarm you STILL rely on the public. Or your keyholder, responsible person or MD. Someone must get to site and confirm the alarm is genuine.

So who should do that?

Who will make the confirmation call?

For low-risk businesses like offices, shops, warehouses and factories these measures do present a problem.

It’s a tricky one for many a responsible person self-isolating… Ask yourself this:

In these crazy times do YOU have a ‘fit for purpose’ keyholder ready to get to site ASAP in the middle of the night?

In fact, when you think about it, it’s a concern for high-risk businesses too.

You may think you have done everything you need to. Your fire alarm system was installed and monitored by an accredited company. But if your keyholders are sick and unable to make that journey to check out your premises… You rely on the public to make the call. And with the lockdown, there’s no one about to do that.

And there are insurance implications. What will they think of this?

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Not too surprising

Before you shake your head, grumble and begin cursing… there’s plenty of just cause. The Avon Fire and Rescue Service attended 5700 false alarm callouts in 2018/2019. And latest Government figures show false alarms are huge problem. These are the highest number of incidents attended in the UK – 228,309. That’s 41% of all call-outs!

South Yorkshire Fire Service Area Manager Andy Strelczenie, said:

“False alarms make up a massive proportion of the incidents firefighters are mobilised too. Whilst we will always attend incidents when our services are definitely required, our frequent attendance at false alarms disrupts training and increases road risk to firefighters rushing on blue lights to incidents which later turn out to be false alarms.”

It’s little wonder the Fire Chiefs are doing something about it!

Fire engine image courtesy of Pixabay