East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service logo
East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service logo

Reducing False Alarms

We all need to look at how we can reduce false alarms


The negative impact it has on the community

  • Disruption to a business (unnecessary costs and loss of business when a building is evacuated)
  • The unnecessary risk to the public from fire engines travelling to the incident
  • Complacency "oh it's just another false alarm" - reduces the effectiveness of management plans and safety of staff
  • The cost to businesses who release on-call firefighters to attend incidents
  • The impact on the environment of unnecessary movement of fire engines
  • The cost Taxpayers

The impact on the Fire & Rescue Service

  • Potentially putting lives at risk by diverting essential services from real fires and rescues
  • The unnecessary risk of vehicle accidents to crews when responding
  • Disruption to crew's training, arson reduction and community safety and fire safety activities.
  • Wasted cost of attendance for the Fire Service.
  • Wear and tear on vehicles

How can you do this?

Your Legal responsibilities

If you are 

  • an employer, the owner, the landlord, an occupier or anyone else with control of premises, for example, 
  • a facilities manager, building manager, managing agent or risk assessor,

you may also be responsible for the fire safety of a business or non-domestic property (including common ways of flats and houses of multiple occupation where at least 3 tenants live that forms more than 1 household and share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants)

Responsible Person

If you are the ‘responsible person’ and have a legal responsibility to manage the fire protection measures in a building, and failure to do so competently can lead to prosecution under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Where necessary, this includes making sure that the appropriate fire-fighting equipment, detectors and alarms are fitted and that the premises, facilities, equipment and devices are maintained in an efficient state, of working order and good repair in order to safeguard the safety of people on the premises. The responsible person must also, where necessary, nominate a competent person to implement these measures.

Where a fire alarm is fitted the owner/responsible person must put in place procedures for the investigation of fire alarm activations and re-setting the system following the investigation.

How we will do this?

  • Encourage AFA protected site managers to be more proactive about false alarms.
  • Set up Call-Filtering procedures with Fire Alarm Monitoring Centres and in our own Sussex ControlCentre to make sure appliances are not mobilised to confirmed false alarms.

How can you help?

  • Remember, fire alarm systems are there to alert occupants to the fact that there may be a fire and depending on your fire risk assessment and emergency plans, it is normally appropriate to investigate first and only to call the Fire Service if / when there are any signs to indicate that there is actually a fire.

  • Contact your fire alarm maintenance company as soon as possible in order to obtain advice on reducing the number of false alarms.

    Arrange a visit to confirm that the system is still suitable for the premises and that any changes in the use of rooms have not had a detrimental effect on the type of detectors installed.

  • If you have an automatic alarm system, make sure it is installed properly, that you know how it works and it is serviced regularly by a competent person.

    The British Standards Institutes' BS 5839 has recommendations for the planning, design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of these systems.

    If these are followed, a false alarm issue is unlikely to occur. Ensure that the system is thoroughly inspected and serviced on a regular basis.

  • If your fire alarm system is monitored by an alarm receiving centre (ARC), you will need to ensure liaison between yourself, the maintainer and the ARC in order to minimise the number of false alarm calls and to ensure that the correct procedures are in place.

  • If you are having repeat false alarms, please ensure that the system is monitored for at least the next 6 months so that all further alarms are investigated to establish a cause and any patterns and trends are identified.

  • Make sure staff and/or residents know what to do when the alarm goes off.

  • Make sure that your residents/tenants/occupiers are familiar with your policy on cooking and the dangers of allowing food to overheat.

  • Be aware that steam and dust can trigger alarms and take precautions when possible. Make sure that any contractors carrying out work take additional care not to trigger the alarm by accident.

If you do have a fire, call 999 immediately. Do not put yourself at risk and only attempt to use extinguishers if trained and it is safe to do so.

Advice For Residents

Understanding our role and identifying who should be managing the automatic fire alarm system.

Resetting fire alarms 

UK Fire & Rescue Services do not re-set fire alarm systems, resetting the alarm system without proper investigation could also reduce the effectiveness of the subsequent investigation into the cause of the false alarm by a competent engineer.

Why we do not reset fire alarms
Why we do not reset fire alarms

Contact us

If you require further advice or information from the Business Safety Team please contact us:

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service

Business Safety
Eastbourne Community Fire Station
Whitley Road
East Sussex
BN22 8LA 
Email:  hq.businesssafety@esfrs.org 
Telephone:01323 462409

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