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NFRS updates automatic fire alarm procedure

06 December 2018

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) has updated its Automatic Fire Alarm (AFA) procedure to align working practices with other Services in the region, ensuring firefighters are free to attend genuine emergencies.

Automatic fire alarms, when triggered, are programmed to contact an offsite call centre who then call the Service. Fire crews attend the call without verification of a fire. Annually, this means our crews are mobilised to thousands of false alarms, across Nottinghamshire, every year. 

To reduce the impact of AFA activations on the Service, Alarm Receiving Centres (ARC) or Fire Alarm Monitoring Organisations (FAMO) will be call challenged 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

They will be asked to gather additional information from the occupier and the outcome will determine attendance.

The updated approach will reduce the amount of false alarms fire crews attend. During 2017/2018, the service responded to 4,369 false alarms of which 3,272 were caused by automatic fire alarms. Each false alarm diverts valuable resources from other, potentially genuine calls.  

This updated procedure will not affect the following premises who may have automatic fire alarms:  

  • Domestic premises including Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO);
  • Residential flats;
  • Sheltered housing;
  • Residential care and nursing homes;
  • Local Primary Care Trust Hospitals and Private Hospitals which have sleeping on site;
  • Hotels during night-time hours only (21:00hrs - 08:00hrs), During the day, hotels will be call challenged;
  • Other sleeping risks;
  • Sites that present a greater risk of injury to firefighters due to the hazards on site and where we have gathered detailed risk information;
  • Heritage sites listed as Grade I or Grade II by Historic England;
  • High rise premises with sleeping risk;
  • Premises not conforming to the above criteria but locally determined to be unsuitable for call challenging.

Station manager and head of fire protection Andrew Kelly said, “During 2017, we attended over 3,000 calls to Automatic Fire Alarms (AFA) which turned out to be false alarms. Each false alarm means firefighters are potentially diverted away from other genuine calls.

“The Service is committed to attending fires as quickly and as effectively as resources permit, and our response to a confirmed emergency call, where the caller is certain that our assistance is required, will not change. 

“We are keen to support businesses and organisations through this transitional period and beyond. 

“If you wish to discuss these changes in further detail or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the fire protection team either by email fireprotection@notts-fire.gov.uk, by calling 0115 8388205 or by going to our Business Safety pages."