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

Repeat non-emergency call outs targeted by Fire and Rescue Service

Date : 14 December 2017

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East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is beginning fresh efforts at reducing the number of false alarms and non-emergency lift calls.

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

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

There were 338 lift releases in the same period.

Letters are now being sent to properties where there have been repeated call outs.

 Mark Matthews, Assistant Director of Safer Communities at the Service said:

“It’s important that we are not distracted from real emergencies by call outs which could have been prevented. The good news is that businesses, landlords and property owners can take some simple steps to reduce these types of calls. We are asking them to follow our advice and take responsibility for their premises and by doing so ensure our crews remain available for life saving incidents.”

Got an automatic fire alarm? Here’s 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.


Got a lift? Here’s how you can help

The potential of a lift stopping between floors or lift doors failing to open is a foreseeable event that does not always require the attendance of our fire crews.

We expect that the building’s owner or occupants have a way to deal with these non-emergency events when they happen. You should not rely on calling 999.

You should make arrangements to provide a 24/7 non-emergency lift release service within a reasonable period of time, as well as communications facilities inside the elevator so a person can raise the alarm.

We would therefore ask that you carry out the following actions:

  • keep lifts in good working order with regular services and inspections

  • have a clear policy on what to do if the lift breaks down – this should include having a contract or contact details for lift engineers

  • ensure there are clear instructions inside the lift which explain what to do if it stops unexpectedly

  • ensure that people in your building know what to do to summon help

  • ensure that if your lift does suffer a malfunction you fully understand the problem and take appropriate action to prevent a similar fault

We would like to point out there are legal responsibilities under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 to show a “common duty of care” to keep the property safe and properly maintained.

Additionally lifts provided for use by workers in workplaces are subject to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER).


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