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How to Investigate an Automatic Fire Alarm Activation.

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How to Investigate an Automatic Fire Alarm Activation.

Understand your responsibilities regarding automatic fire alarm activation.

What is an Automatic Fire Alarm

Automatic Fire Alarms (AFAs) alert to potential fires. However, many activations are false alarms, termed Unwanted Fire Signals.

Why its important to investigate the cause of an AFA

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.

For more information on persons with duties under the fire safety legislation visit goverement website.

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. These false alarms divert resources from genuine emergencies and pose risks to public safety. Reducing our attendance to false fire alarms means we can optimise resources, enhancing overall efficiency and effectiveness.

Important Changes during our AFA Mobilising Pilot

From the 8 July, 2024 all non-domestic premise AFA calls will be call challenged. 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 can confirm there is a fire or signs of a fire (smoke, heat, smell, sound) clearly state to the call handler ‘this is a confirmed fire call’ and not just an AFA sounding.

Visit our page AFA Mobilising Pilot for more information.

How to investigate the an AFA activation  

  • If at any time you discover signs of fire, raise the alarm, get out using the nearest fire exit, and call  999. The Fire Service will attend. When speaking to our call handlers call clearly state that an investigation has taken place, and this is a call to a confirmed fire and not just an AFA sounding.
  • Check the fire alarm panel to find where the alarm has activated – it is vital that you have a full zone or detector plan displayed immediately adjacent to the panel.
  • When investigating, look, listen and smell for signs of fire. It might be smoke, unusual noises or heat and could be one, some, or all those signs.
  • Where possible, have another member of staff remain at the fire alarm panel and maintain contact.
  • 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.

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

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