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

Fire Alarms


Keep up to date with changes to our response to unwanted fire signals

From April 2022, our Service  no longer attends fire alarms operating in low-risk commercial premises, between 0900hrs and 1700hrs Monday to Friday (except bank holidays) unless we receive telephone confirmation that there is a fire. 

Low-risk premises are classified as premises with no sleeping risk, such as offices, shops, factories, pubs, clubs and restaurants. 

Alarms for commerical premises - responsible person

If you are;

  1. an employer, the owner, the landlord, an occupier or anyone else with control of premises, for example,
  2. 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 (HMOs) 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.

If you are not sure where to start, read our information about Risk Assessments.

Finding the right company to design your fire alarm
Testing and servicing

Before testing or doing any maintenance work your alarms you must, if your system is monitored, inform your alarm centre that the testing and maintenance is taking place and inform them when it is completed.

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. 

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.

Training your team

Your Risk Assessment should make clear how you will train any staff you employ on fire safety measures. 

This should include ensuring they understand what to do when the alarm goes off.

Ask you Monitoring Company and Alarm Manufacturer for information in order to create a safe system of work which everyone is aware of and can follow. 

You should consider the following: 

  • How will you ensure the safety of your building managers and/or staff if/when they need to investigate the source of the automatic fire alarm activation?
  • What is your evacuation policy and does it make it clear that the fire alarm is the start of appropriate action?
  • Do staff know how the alarm panel works? Are details of alarm zones and detector plans adjacent to the panel for them to easily read?  
  • Do they know how to recognise the signs of fire - this could include smoke, unusual noises or heat - and that they should immediately leave by the nearest fire exit and call 999? SAFETY TIP: Before opening a door, feel it with the back of your hand, as high up the door as you can reach, for signs of heat. If it is hot DO NOT OPEN the door. 
  • Do staff know what to do if there is no sign of fire? Remember, a fire might not be visible to the person investigating eg behind a wall cavity / inside a light fitting etc, so if the cause of the alarm is unknown DO NOT silence it and call 999.
  • Do you have staff who are trained and competent in resetting the alarm or working with a third party to do so? 

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.

Resetting 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.

It is your responsibility to reset, or employ a third party company to do this for you.

Any third party company contracted to reset your fire alarm should be able to respond within a reasonable time period as most alarms will not have full functionality until they are reset. 

The details of any false alarms should be recorded in the fire alarm logbook. Record the cause and location of the alarm. This is essential to demonstrate fire safety compliance and to identify and problems with the alarm system

All AFA actuations should be reported to the premises manager so that appropriate action can be taken to avoid further false alarms.

False alarms prevention

 Many false alarms result from activities carried out near to fire detectors, particularly smoke detectors. 

The GOV.UK website has the following information

To prevent unwanted false alarms, you should get professional support and advice as every building is different, and different measures may be needed.

These are some of the common causes you should think about. 

1.   Cooking fumes and toasters 

2.   Steam (from shower rooms) 

3.   Steam (From industrial processes)

4.  Smoking (cigarettes)

5.  Aerosol sprays

6.  Hot work/dusty work - consider how you brief anyone carrying out renovations or building work 

7.  Accidental and / or malicious damage to a 'Break Glass' call point

8.  Testing and Maintenance - work with your alarm centre 

9.  Changes to the use or layout of the building - make sure your risk assessment is reviewed 

10. Faulty detectors 

11. Incorrect positioning of detectors

Changes to fire alarm systems should only be undertaken by a competent person or contractor. Any such changes should only be undertaken after the fire risk assessment has reviewed in light of the identified problems or changes.  All changes to the fire alarm system should be documented and the appropriate certification kept in your fire safety logbook.

Fire protection products and services should be fit for their purposes and properly installed and maintained in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions or a relevant standard. Third party certification schemes for fire protection products are an effective means of providing the best possible assurances offering a level of quality and reliability that non-certificated products may lack.

Contact us

If it’s likely to set your alarm off and you can't reach the alarm monitoring company, the responsible person should contact Fire Control on 01737 499050 before starting any works or testing.  

This will help us decide what course of action to take if we receive any emergency calls.  

If you know that something has been done that has set off your alarm, like an accidental knock by builder, or steam from a shower, call us on 999 and let us know. 

Latest Update :
08 July 2022
Please rate this page, was it:
Please rate this page!