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London Fire Brigade sets out new response policy on automatic fire alarms

14 June 2024

BEGINNING IN October, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) will change its response protocol for automatic fire alarms in non-residential buildings. The new approach affects daytime hours and requires a confirmed fire call for LFB attendance.

From 1 October, the LFB will no longer automatically respond to automatic fire alarms in most non-residential buildings, including offices and industrial estates, during daytime hours unless a fire is confirmed by a call from an individual.

Managers need to ascertain whether their building is exempt from the new policy on the LFB’s automatic fire alarm exemptions page. Best Practice is to regularly conduct fire risk assessments, create an emergency plan and ensure that all employees are aware of fire safety protocols. If a fire is confirmed, it’s them time to evacuate the premises and call 999 to report it.

Visit the LFB’s dedicated workplace resources pages for comprehensive details.

Alarm Receiving Centre teams and Responsible Persons need to make some adjustments. They must distinguish between false alarms and confirmed fires. The designated Responsible Person must communicate any exemptions to the LFB during an emergency call.

The LFB will respond to confirmed fires in commercial buildings during daytime hours if a fire is reported or if the premises are exempt.

For clarity, staff training is not provided by the LFB. Businesses must ensure compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which mandates adequate fire safety training for employees in England and Wales.

Exemptions and reviews

Currently, there are no plans to review exemptions. However, new policies for identifying and exempting high-risk buildings may lead to periodic reviews.

At present, the LFB is not accepting exemption applications. If the belief is held that a specific building presents a defined risk, it’s best to contact local Borough or Prevention and Protection team.

In terms of handling multi-use buildings, if an alarm affects sleeping accommodation or other exempt premises, the LFB will respond. The specific nature of multi-use buildings should be communicated to the nominated Alarm Receiving Centres.

Schools will receive responses during the day even if unoccupied. Premises involving animals are not automatically exempt unless specific risks are identified locally.

Any signs of fire should be reported on an alarm activation. For commercial properties with no apparent fire, the LFB will not attend.

Insurers should be informed about the new policy. The LFB will continue to respond to confirmed fires. The LFB’s statutory duties do not require attendance at automatic fire alarms unless a fire is suspected or confirmed.

For further guidance, it’s best to refer to the LFB’s emergency plans and fire safety training requirements in order to ensure compliance and safety within a given premises.