New London Fire Brigade Policy on Automatic Fire Alarms

The London Fire Brigade reported that in 2023 they attended some 52,000 fire alarm related calls, with 99% of call outs in commercial premises being false alarms.

To reduce the amount of time and resources deployed attending unwanted fire alarm activations, from 1 October 2024 the London Fire Brigade will stop attending automatic fire alarm/detection system call outs to commercial business and workplace premises during daytime hours, unless a fire has been confirmed via a 999 call. This change applies to all commercial premises other than exempted property types which include accommodation risks such as hospitals, care homes, blocks of flats, hotels, houses of multiple occupancy, children’s homes and other specialist buildings such as schools, nurseries, prisons/secure institutions and heritage buildings; these will all continue to receive the normal fire brigade response.

Activations from monitored fire alarm systems to an Alarm Receiving Centre will need to be confirmed before the Alarm Receiving Centre call handler requests a fire brigade response. This is typically via a telephone call between the Alarm Receiving Centre and nominated persons in the premises confirming the presence of fire. However, it can also be where multi-sensor detector types operate, or detectors operate in different areas of the premises. The London Fire Brigade have confirmed this information should be relayed to them and they will consider whether a response is justified or necessary. 

To help reduce the potential for unwanted fire alarm activations, business owners should review their Fire Risk Assessments and make sure their local Fire and Rescue Service response to fire alarm activations has been fully considered. The premises should also be managed to reduce the risk of fire and ensure automatic fire detection/fire alarm systems are adequately maintained by a competent and accredited fire alarm company, providing the most appropriate detector technology throughout the premises. 

Most of the 46 UK Fire & Rescue Services now operate a ‘call challenge’ response to monitored fire alarm systems and have done for a number of years in line with guidance issued by the National Fire Chiefs Council in 2014. The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Services were the most recent service to adopt this approach in February 2024, following a similar decision by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in July 2023. 

For more information visit the London Fire Brigade website.

*Information sourced from

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