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Hertfordshire County Council

Automatic fire alarms – proposed changes to the way Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue respond

 

This consultation Opened on 15 October 2020.

Any response will be published here.


Why we are consulting:

While firefighters are responding to false alarms they are not available to tackle real fires. False alarms waste essential resources, potentially putting lives at risk, and they disrupt other activities such as training and community fire safety work. False alarms also cost businesses time and money.

Last year Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) responded to more than 2,700 Automatic Fire Alarms that turned out to be false alarms. The vast majority of the time these were avoidable false alarms caused by either a faulty system or an accidental activation, for example as a result of cooking fumes.

Proposed changes

For a 12 month trial period, starting on the 1 February 2021, we are proposing to no longer attend Automatic Fire Alarms at either office or retail premises unless there is also an independently confirmed fire - a 999 call. 

Over the past three years these types of premises have made up 26% of all Automatic Fire Alarms that HFRS have attended at non-domestic properties, however less than 1% of those attended at these premises were actually fires.

When will we respond to an Automatic Fire Alarm?

We will respond to an Automatic Fire Alarm if:

  • The alarm is sounding at domestic premises or certain types of higher risk non-domestic premises e.g. hospitals, care homes, hostels, schools, houses of multiple occupation (HMOs), or halls of residence.
  • Most other types of non-domestic properties between the hours of 7pm and 7am.
  • Somebody calls us to confirm that the alarm is sounding because there is a fire - in other words it is not a false alarm.

When will we not respond to an Automatic Fire Alarm?

Currently HFRS do not attend fire signals generated by Automatic Fire Alarms between the hours of 7am – 7pm from Monday to Friday unless a call is received from the premises or a passer-by confirming that there is a fire or signs of a fire. As highlighted above there are some exceptions to this for higher risk and residential premises.

In line with the approach taken by a number of other Fire and Rescue Services across the UK, we are proposing to no longer respond to Automatic Fire Alarms at any time of day for office and retail premises.


Why are we proposing these changes?

It is important to note that these proposals are not financially driven but are about making more efficient use of resources available. By reducing the number of false alarms attended by firefighters, these resources can be redeployed to support community safety activity, training and be available to attend incidents that do require our attendance.

How do I comment on the proposed changes?

If you would like to comment please send them to:

Email: administration.cfs@hertfordshire.gov.uk

Write to: Fire Protection, Postal Point CHO331, Room 346, County Hall, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8DQ

Telephone: 01707 292310

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