False Alarms

Automatic fire alarms

An automatic fire alarm (AFA) helps to keep people and property safe by giving early warning in the event of fire.

Automatic fire alarm systems detect fire, heat or smoke (or a combination of all three) and then produce a warning; some systems transmit these warnings to a receiving centre.

False alarms

Sometimes, AFA’s go off when there is no fire and they create a false alarm – most of us have experienced the disruption and inconvenience caused when this happens.

As a business, the nuisance from false alarms includes loss of productivity but also repeated false alarms can affect the way the staff and members of the public react causing complacency and reducing the effectiveness of the alarm system.

Fire service attendance at false alarms also mean that your firefighters are not available to attend genuine emergency calls; are disrupted from carrying out important training, emergency planning and other key activities.  

Maintenance and your responsibilities

We recommend that you ensure your automatic fire alarm system is properly designed, installed and maintained. You may need to seek advice from a competent fire alarm engineer.

If your premises is not a private dwelling then you may have responsibilities under the Fire Safety Order in relation to your alarm system, its suitability for your premises and its maintenance as well as the procedures in place for when it goes off.  Where we consider that a fire alarm is not working properly to protect people, we may take enforcement action.

Make sure you have appropriate procedures in place for when your fire alarm does activate including evacuation procedures and the ability for a trained individual to check on the cause without putting themselves at risk. If your alarm system is linked to a receiving centre, ensure that when your premises is occupied a call back check is made to your before calling the Fire Service; this will reduce unnecessary Fire Service attendances to false alarms and also ensure that if a fire has occurred the appropriate Fire Service resources attend. If you have any reason to believe that a fire may have broken out always call 999 and ask for the Fire Service.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service will not respond to fire alarm activations in low risk premises where there is no sleeping accommodation between 0800 and 1700 hours unless the caller reasonably believes a fire to have broken out. The Fire Service will always respond to calls reporting a fire.

If you do experience a false alarm, you should take action to prevent it re-occurring. You will firstly need to establish what has caused the alarm and then look to put control measures in place to prevent reoccurrence; this could be as simple as re-siting a toaster or keeping a bathroom door closed to prevent steam setting of a detector. 

If you would like any further information please go to the Contact Us page on our website.