Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service have announced a new policy for responding to Automatic Fire Alarms.

The fire and rescue service released the following statement:

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service have for some time been concerned about the increase in call outs to malfunctioned or misinstalled automatic fire alarms. These unnecessary call outs result in an increase in 'blue light' journeys that waste money and increase risk to the public and our crews through the delayed response to genuine emergencies. Users of these automatic fire alarm systems also lose confidence in their ability to protect their properties from fire and repeated false alarms risk complacency amongst the users of buildings. 

To ensure we provide the best service to our communities the fire and rescue service is committed to minimising unnecessary call outs. A reduction in false alarms will allow service appliances to be available for genuine emergencies and release essential resources for more training; as well as allowing more preventative and protection activities within the community to take place.

Between April 2010 to March 2011, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service attended 18,552 calls to incidents. 4,339 of these calls were to Automatic Fire Alarm (AFA) systems, and while 223 proved to be fires, 4090 (94%) were false alarms as the premises concerned had poor performing fire alarm systems.

When the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority met on the 17th February this year they approved the implementation of a new Automatic Fire Alarm policy.


The Policy 

This policy is designed to reduce the impact of unwanted calls generated from automatic fire detection systems on service delivery, business and commerce and to support the safety of the community.

As from the 1st April 2012, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service will be implementing two new initiatives to reduce the number of false alarm calls it receives:

  • To reduce the amount of fire appliances sent to domestic properties fire alarms (smoke detectors) between the hours of 8.00am to 6.00pm, seven days a week unless a fire is confirmed.
  • With non-domestic premises to recover costs from the responsible person for our attendance when there is a persistent problem with false reports of fire, which are directly or indirectly caused by warning equipment under common control having malfunctioned or been misinstalled. Cost recovery would follow a staged approach where the service will seek to work with those responsible for buildings. In the event of continual failure to resolve the problem Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service will initiate cost recovery through the powers conferred by the Localism Act 2011.

False alarms cause a significant drain on Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service resources. The service is committed to minimising false/unwanted alarms and thus reducing the number of unnecessary mobilisations and their consequential impact on service delivery, business and commerce.


Posted March 13th, 2012 at 1525 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: