Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Automatic Fire Alarms

Our firefighters respond to incidents triggered by automatic fire alarm systems, sometimes these have activated when there was no fire.

These systems usually sound because of cooking, steam, smoking or dust caused by building work, but still require a full emergency response from fire crews.

While fire engines and crews are travelling and attending these incidents they are not available to attend other, potentially life-threatening, emergencies.

It is estimated that the total cost of false alarms to UK businesses is over £1 billion a year as well as disruption to workforce, customers, productivity and reputation.

Simple behaviour changes can reduce false alarms, please see below a list of common reasons an automatic fire alarm might go off:

  • Alarm systems being tested without notifying the alarm company, resulting in an emergency call out
  • Fumes from steam and aerosols
  • Cooking – such as burnt toast
  • Sudden changes to humidity and temperature
  • People smoking near detectors
  • Contractors working beneath live or uncovered detectors
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