Unwanted Fire Signals

Tri-Service Automatic Fire Alarm Procedure


Since December 2018, Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service in conjunction with our Tri-Service partners, Derbyshire & Leicestershire Fire & Rescue Services, has adopted a new procedure for automatic fire alarms.

We are committed to attending fires as quickly and as effectively as our resources permit, however a distinction needs to be made between a confirmed emergency call, where the caller is certain that our assistance is required, and an unconfirmed fire alarm generated by an automatic system. We are now challenging each call to ask for additional information before determining if we will attend. To help you determine if your alarm is genuine, we've created a document to help you Investigate and Reset your Fire Alarm

Why?

During 2019, we attended almost 4000 calls to Automatic Fire Alarms (AFA) which turned out to be false alarms. We class these as Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals (UFAS). This generated costs to our organisation in the region of £900,000.

Attending unnecessary incidents such as these is a resource intensive drain on our organisation and diverts us away from those that may need us most in emergency situations. It also impacts on the vital prevention work and training we undertake, whilst increasing the risk to other road users and the environment through increased numbers of fire appliance blue light journeys.

To reduce the impact of AFA activations on our organisation, we undertake call challenging 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This call challenging will place emphasis on the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) or Fire Alarm Monitoring Organisation (FAMO) to gather additional information from the occupier through further investigation of the premises. The outcome of this investigation will determine if an attendance will be made by us or not.

Enforcement

Due to the impact of these UFAS, we work with businesses to try and reduce the numbers of unnecessary call outs. We work on a rolling 26 week basis;

  • Upon your first actuation, you will receive a letter confirming that a UFAS has been attended by NFRS, with some tips on reducing your false alarms.
  • If UFAS's continue, a second letter will be issued on your fourth actuation within 26 weeks, outlining the concerns of NFRS regarding the elevated instance of UFAS's at your premises. A member of the Business Support Team may also contact you to ask what remedial actions you may have taken, and offer advice that aims to reduce these signals moving forward.
  • If further UFAS's are received, then on your 6th actuation within 26 weeks, a Fire Safety Inspector may contact you to arrange a full audit of your premises in accordance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.

Exemptions

As an organisation we recognise that some premises present a greater risk to life and to the wider economic community of Nottinghamshire, as such we have determined that the following premises types will be exempt from call challenging as part of this procedure:

  • Domestic premises including Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO);
  • Residential flats;
  • Sheltered housing;
  • Residential care and nursing homes;
  • Local Primary Care Trust Hospitals and Private Hospitals which have sleeping on site;
  • Hotels during night-time hours only (21:00hrs - 08:00hrs) , During the day, hotels will be call challenged;
  • Other sleeping risks;
  • Sites that present a greater risk of injury to firefighters due to the hazards on site and where we have gathered detailed risk information;
  • Heritage sites listed as Grade I or Grade II by Historic England;
  • High rise premises with sleeping risk;
  • A premises not conforming to the above criteria but is locally determined to be unsuitable for call challenging.

 

Nottinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service are keen to support businesses and organisations manage their false alarms. If you wish to discuss the procedure in further detail or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us either by email fireprotection@notts-fire.gov.uk or by calling 0115 838 8205.


A copy of the AFA Tri-Service procedure is available online.

A set of frequently asked questions and responses regarding Automatic Fire Alarm procedure can be accessed here.

Additional information is available from the National Fire Chiefs Council on reducing unwanted fire signals.

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