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

False Alarm Reduction

In  the year 2016/17 we responded on to 9,144 incidents. 

Of those, 4,514 (49.4%) were false alarms including 3,177 from automatic fire alarm systems.

Smoke Detector


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 Institute's 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.
  • Ensure staff and/or residents know what to do when the alarm goes off.
  • Ensure 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.Ensure that any contractors carrying out work take additional care not to trigger the alarm by accident.

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

Why we must reduce alarms

Impact on the Community

  • Disruption of business (unnecessary downtime costs whilst building is evacuated, loss of business, disruption).

  • Unnecessary risk to public from responding fire engines.

  • Complacency "oh it's just another false alarm" - reduces effectiveness of management plans and safety of staff.

  • Cost to business of Retained fire fighters being released for duty.

  • Impact on the environment of unnecessary appliance movements.

  • Cost of attendance to Tax payers - Council Tax.

Impact on the Fire & Rescue Service 

  • Diverting essential services from real fires and rescues (putting lives at risk).

  • Unnecessary risk to crew whilst responding (vehicle accidents).

  • Disruption to crew's training, arson reduction and community safety/ fire safety activities.

  • Cost of attendance to the Fire Service.

  • Wear and tear on vehicles.

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 Control Centre  to ensure appliances are not mobilised to confirmed false alarms. 

Legal responsibilities

Fire detection and alarm systems are installed 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.

We would also like to remind you that you may be responsible for fire safety in business or other non-domestic premises (including common ways of flats and houses of multiple occupation where at least 3 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household and you share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants) if you’re:

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

You’re known as 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 ensuring 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 investigation.

UK Fire & Rescue Services do not re-set fire alarm systems, re-setting 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. 

Advice For Residents

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

For occupiers of premises protected by automatic fire alarms

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 StationWhitley RoadEast Sussex BN22 8LA

Telephone : 01323 462409

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