Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Automatic Fire Alarms

The following information is provided to answer questions posed to the
Service following the decision not to attend certain types of premises when a
fire alarm actuates.

Under section 7 of The Fire Services Act 2004 a responsibility is placed on Fire Authorities to make provision for fire fighting and not to attend premises to ascertain if a fire exists. This duty lies with the person whom has responsibility for the premises.

The table below summarises responses to some recent questions that have been raised.

Business premises

  Office, Shops, Factories Sleeping risks (Hotels, Hospitals, Care etc) Schools etc
Question Answer Answer
When will the new procedure start? 28th February 2011 NA
Will the Service respond to non confirmed fire signals from Alarm Receiving Centre's (ARC's)? NO YES
If NO should we remove the ARC process? No, the ARC should be directed to contact the key holder to attend the premises to confirm the situation NA

We will be attending confirmed fires at all times regardless of premises use, however as detailed in our letter dated November 2010 from 28th February we will only be attending premises as detailed above.

In commercial premises, 99.8% of actuations are false alarms. This meant that firefighting action was only required in 0.2% of the time (11 Calls) of which less that half required no more than a fire extinguisher to extinguish the fire.

We will not be attending actuations of Automatic Fire Alarm systems which are not supported by a phone call to confirm a Fire Service attendance is required (some Fire Alarm systems may be capable of carrying out this function, more details will be available shortly)

This may mean you need to review your management policies and procedures to ensure during normal working hours any actuation of the fire alarm is investigated and fire situation confirmed prior to the Fire Service being called.

For periods, out of normal business hours arrangements will need to be made for an employee / company representative to attend the premises to ascertain if a Fire Service attendance is required and place a 999 call (a safe system of work needs to be in place to ensure anybody attending e.g. local key holder can quickly and safely make the decision without undue risk to themselves, a specific risk assessment is recommended to be carried out).

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