The growing influence of the Fire Sector Federation (FSF) and its increasing role in bringing together representatives from across the fire industry to improve UK fire safety was recognised by Fire Minister Brandon Lewis at the recent Fire Sector Summit.

Speaking at the event, Mr Lewis highlighted the devastating impact of fire on business and communities and praised the Federation for bringing the fire industry together and proactively engaging with industry and commerce to make the case for "effective and proportionate fire protection" in all areas of business.

"The interaction between the fire industry and fire and rescue is a complex one - and for that reason I am delighted that the Fire Sector Federation is playing an increasingly important role in pulling all parts of the fire industry together, into a forum where ideas and knowledge can be exchanged," he told delegates at Wembley Stadium on October 24.

Mr Lewis identified false alarms from automatic fire detection and alarm systems as one area in which the Federation was already working to make improvements.  He explained that in 2011 there were some 249,000 false alarms in England, with London Fire Brigade alone being called out to a false alarm every 12 minutes, at an estimated cost of £34 million per year.

"I believe that technology can address this issue. To that end I have asked [FSF President] Brian Robinson to see what the industry itself can do to drive down false alarms through improved technology," he said.

"At a time when every penny counts, this is an obvious area in which to make large savings. Dealing with the number of false alarms has got to be a priority and I would encourage the industry and fire and rescue authorities to work together to develop a common approach to cutting back on something that not only wastes money, but potentially could cost lives, and I look forward to hearing their findings."

With many false alarms from automatic systems put down to 'faulty equipment', the FSF's Technology Workstream will look closely at the causes and whether they are due to poor management or other factors. It will also look into how technology can be used to reduce the number false alarms.

"The industry has made some good technological advances over the last 10 years and this technology needs to be implemented more widely in buildings. Often buildings are installed with fire detection and alarm systems without considering who will occupy a building and how it will be used," added Martin Harvey, Chair of the FSF Technology Workstream.

The Workstream is investigating the use of more sophisticated technology, such as multi-sensor detectors which can detect more than one factor, such as smoke and heat. These can be more effective at identifying whether there is a real fire, or whether it is an environmental factor such as dust or steam that is triggering an alarm.

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Posted 05/11/2012 by