How to Reduce False Fire Alarms
According to gov.uk, fire rescue services in England attended no less than 231,510 false fire alarms in the year up to June 2020.
Think about that for a minute.
The year previous to this was 229,961 (so that’s a 6% increase), and five years ago 215,857. Not only is the number going up – it’s simply too high to begin with. So why is this happening when, logically speaking, technology should be improving as the years go on? More importantly, how can we reduce false fire alarms?
Reducing false fire alarms: what causes them?
False fire alarms are typically put into three broad categories: ‘due to apparatus’, ‘good intent’ and ‘malicious’. Due to apparatus refers to when an alarm sounds automatically (i.e. people in the building accidentally set it off, or it sounds due to a perceived hazard); good intent refers to calls made because an individual believes that there really is a fire or incident which requires attention; malicious means that someone deliberately sets off the alarm, or calls to have the fire and rescue service attend knowing there’s no incident.
None of these scenarios are ideal, obviously – but there are definitely things we can do to lower their frequency.
Reducing false fire alarms: why is it so important as a landlord?
Some fire services – including the London Fire Brigade – have actually made moves to recover costs in the event of a false alarm under certain circumstances; as a landlord, you’re often the one held responsible and could be financially liable for these. Further to this, let’s be real for just a second: each and every false alarm attended by a rescue service is taking crucial resources and manpower away from what might be a real incident happening elsewhere. It’s just not good enough.
How to reduce false fire alarms
To reduce false fire alarms in your building, you can take the following actions:
- Check your alarms and conduct regular inspections to ensure they’re up to code and operating correctly. Many false alarms happen for no more reason than equipment which isn’t working as it should be.
- Replace outdated equipment such as smoke detectors and alarms, which may have become obsolete. Technology has moved on – so make sure yours is up to scratch. (Your annual fire risk assessment should show this up.)
- Educate your residents on some simple actions to take to reduce the alarms sounding when there’s no hazard present – i.e. opening windows or turning on extractor fans whilst cooking. Equally, make sure they’re vigilant and understand the urgency of sounding the alarm in the event of a real fire!
- Keep a note of whenever a false alarm occurs and make a log to understand any patterns and reduce them in future.
By staying up to date with your fire risk assessments and having your properties regularly inspected, you’ll be doing your bit to helping that huge number I mentioned up top comes down next year. Get in touch to discuss arranging your annual FRA with Excel Fire today.