Fire service receives 20 false alarm calls a week from businesses

Published: 21 Jun 2018

Hertfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service is calling on businesses to take action to prevent false alarms after figures revealed that the fire service received more 1,055 false alarms from businesses last year.

Many businesses use automatic fire alarms (AFAs) to protect their property, protect their business, and save lives, and the fire service supports this. However, a significant number of false alarms occur, which is more often than not a result of mismanagement of the alarm system rather than a fault with the alarm itself.

Typical causes of false alarms include poor maintenance, accidental damage, build ups of dust and detectors being placed incorrectly.

Terry Hone, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “These automatic false alarms are disruptive for both the fire and rescue service and for businesses themselves. They stop business and if false alarms occur often, staff can become complacent and won’t react properly in the case of a real fire. They also divert our firefighters away from real incidents, training and community safety activities.”

“We’re asking businesses to take action to reduce the number of false alarm calls we receive. A properly managed automatic alarm will benefit everyone and it doesn’t take much to make sure the system is working properly.”
The financial cost of false alarms is significant - the government estimates that the cost of false alarms across the UK is around £1 billion a year.

Advice to businesses

• Ensure your fire alarm system is maintained and serviced regularly. Cleaning fire detectors to prevent the build-up of dust and even cobwebs is also important
• Select the right detector for the location. For example, if a room with a smoke detector changes use and a kettle or a toaster is introduced, the risk of a false alarm increases
• Locate detectors in sensible places
• Ensure employees and contractors are aware that an automatic alarm system is in operation
• Investigate all false alarms and identify what you can do to prevent it from happening again
• Check manual call points can’t be knocked by mistake