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Automatic Fire Alarm Mobilising Pilot Information.

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Automatic Fire Alarm Mobilising Pilot Information.

How we respond to automatic fire alarms (AFAs) is changing - Read about our six-month AFA mobilising pilot.

From 8 July, 2024, we are running a six-month pilot changing the way we respond to Automatic Fire Alarm (AFA).

On this page you will find further information about this pilot, its implications, and a reminder of the Responsible Person obligations under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Visit Fire safety: guidance for those with legal duties – GOV.UK to explore a range of guides for comprehensive information on risk assessment and other crucial topics in line with current fire safety laws.

What is an Automatic Fire Alarm

Automatic Fire Alarms (AFAs) alert to potential fires. However, many activations are false alarms, termed Unwanted Fire Signals (UwFS). These false alarms divert resources from genuine emergencies and pose risks to public safety.

From 1st April 2021 to 31st March 2022, we responded to 2,961 false alarms, constituting 39.5% of all incidents—a figure consistent since 2016

What is changing and why

The goal of the pilot is to optimise resource allocation and enhance overall efficiency and effectiveness by reducing our attendance to(UwFS). Frequent UwFS can be disruptive, costly, and strain valuable resources.

Key changes:

BFRS will not respond to fire calls generated by AFA systems in non-domestic, medium, and low-risk premises unless a fire is confirmed via a 999 call or there are visible signs of a fire at the location. This applies 24/7. Some exemptions apply.

Exemptions include premises:

  • With sleeping risks (domestic, sheltered housing, hospitals, care homes).
  • Known to us as being a high-risk site for something other than sleeping.

What this means for you:

For care settings with sleeping occupants (such as hospitals, hospices, care homes, and sheltered accommodation), BFRS will continue to respond promptly to AFAs.

We will not be attending premises for confirmed false alarms to ensure appliances are available for other emergencies.

In non-domestic premises covered by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the responsible person, typically the employer, owner, or someone with control over the premises, must ensure the safety of occupants in the event of a fire. This includes defining actions to be taken if the AFA system activates.

Thames Valley Fire Control Service (TVFCS) will call-challenge all non-domestic premise AFA calls. If you call 999 about an AFA be prepared to answer questions about sleeping risks and signs of fire. If an investigation has taken place, and there is a fire or signs of fire (smoke, heat, smell, sound) clearly state to the call handler that this is a confirmed fire call and not just an AFA sounding.

If you have any questions please use our online contact form selecting AFA as the topic.

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