Businesses urged to play their part in tackling a £1 billion problem

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is launching a campaign to encourage businesses to reduce the number of false alarms at their premises.

Last year AF&RS firefighters responded to more than 5,500 incidents triggered by automatic fire alarm systems activating when there was no fire. Although they are often caused by cooking, steam, smoking or dust generated by building work they result in a full emergency response from fire crews.

While fire engines and firefighters are travelling to and investigating these incidents they are not available to attend other, potentially life-threatening emergencies.

During March and April staff from AF&RS will be working with business to provide education on the impacts of false alarms to the emergency service and the firms themselves.

Officers will also provide advice directly to businesses which experience higher volumes of false alarms at their sites.

Steve Quinton, Head of Risk Reduction at Avon Fire & Rescue Service, said: “Last year our crews were called out 5,583 times to false alarms. These are all totally accidental but I don’t think people appreciate the full impact on the fire and rescue service.

“While there is a significant impact on our ability to plan and deliver staff training or safety work in the community, the reality is that false alarms also mean our crews may not be available to provide life-saving help at a house fire or a road traffic collision.

“This campaign is about raising awareness of the issue and asking for the public’s help and support in driving down the number of false alarms we attend.”

Fire crews will be encouraging businesses to address some of the most common causes of false alarms which include:

  • Alarm systems being tested without notifying the alarm company, resulting in an emergency call out
  • Fumes from steam and aerosols
  • Cooking – such as burnt toast
  • Sudden changes to humidity and temperature
  • People smoking near detectors
  • Contractors working beneath live or uncovered detectors

Steve added: “It’s estimated that false alarms cost UK businesses more than £1 billion a year through disruption and lost productivity so there is a compelling financial case for firms to take the issue seriously.

“In many cases the steps businesses need to take to reduce the risk of a false alarm are quite straightforward. We’re making advice available to all businesses and over the next two months our staff will also be contacting firms where we have attended a number of false alarms in order to provide practical advice to help them.”

For more advice visit www.avonfire.gov.uk/businesssafety or watch the campaign video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFTJhrqArGs&t=12s