firealarmNew Advanced Signal Analysis technology (ASA) could reduce the number of false alarm callouts which are currently costing London an estimated £37 million annually and the economy £1 billion in lost productivity.

One third of all incidents for fire crews in London, more than 40,000 call-outs, are due to false alarms from automatic systems.

In launching the recent LFB £290 fine for organisations who have more than ten false alarm call outs in a year, James Cleverly, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, said: “The vast bulk of automatic fire alarm calls turn out not to be fires, these are often caused by poor management or maintenance of alarm systems.”

There are a number of reasons for a false alarm. These range from steam, smoking materials, poor housekeeping, humidity and temperature change through to poor fire detection system testing and maintenance procedures. 

Tony O’Brien from Siemens Building Technologies explained: "Fire alarm and detection systems should not cause false alarms; if an organisation suffers from excessive false alarms, it is down to poor technology or mismanagement. 

"A false alarm is referred to as an ‘unwanted fire signal’ as soon as the fire service is summoned.  There is a need to properly educate building and facilities managers about the benefits of the right technology to minimise unwanted alarms and how to properly maintain their fire alarm systems."

Hospitals, large businesses, airports and student accommodation will all be fined under the new rules, which came into force from January 1. The fine does not apply to care homes or domestic properties.

It is the responsibility of fire alarm companies to not only install and maintain the technology but also to advise on best use and minimisation of potential unwanted fire signals. 

O’Brien added: "The Siemens unique Sinteso™ fire alarm system features advance intelligence which delivers the highest level of protection against all types of fire hazards.  It’s built-in intelligence means it can offer fast identification and early warning of fire, as well as eliminate potential false alarms due to environmental influences such as welding or steam, etc. Alarm systems save lives, protect your business,  your reputation and property."

ASA technology™ is integrated in the detector itself, and Siemens say this makes each device "highly intelligent and 100% reliable". Carbon monoxide detection is combined with the technology providing optical, thermal and electrochemical CO  sensors, which offer extremely fast detection as they continually monitor all three fire criteria – smoke, heat and carbon monoxide.

Each detector is configured with a unique set of parameters for each location, enabling the system to differentiate between false fire phenomena, such as steam or cooking fumes and a real indicator of fire.