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ESFRS Revises Alarm Response to Tackle False Alerts

Starting April 1, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service will not attend false alarms at low-risk premises without confirmation.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is implementing significant policy changes aimed at reducing the number of false alarms they respond to. Starting April 1, 2024, the Service will not respond to fire alarms at low-risk commercial buildings without a confirmed telephone report of a fire. This affects buildings without sleeping risks, including offices, retail stores, schools, factories, pubs, clubs, and restaurants.

Previously, the Service would respond to alarms at these premises outside regular business hours. Now, they’re urging businesses to adapt and prepare for this new protocol. This initiative is a continuation of efforts under the Service’s Integrated Risk Management Plan, which was developed following extensive public consultation.

The rationale behind this change is clear: the Service responds to approximately 10,000 incidents annually, with 36% being automatic fire alarm activations. Alarmingly, 97% of these are false alarms. Specifically, in non-domestic settings, a mere 1.3% of these alarms are actual fires. This not only disrupts the Service’s training and community safety initiatives but also diverts resources from genuine emergencies.

Advisory for Business Owners and Managers

If you’re responsible for fire safety in your building, it’s crucial to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 to avoid legal consequences. Here’s how to prepare for the upcoming changes:

  • Reassess your Fire Risk Assessment and emergency procedures. You may need to update these to include manual checks in response to alarms and know the procedures for alerting authorities or resetting the alarm system.
  • Train your fire wardens or marshals on the new protocols, ensuring they understand their updated roles.
  • Communicate these changes to all employees to foster a clear understanding of their responsibilities during an alarm.
  • Coordinate with your fire alarm monitoring service to align on the new policy.
  • Review past alarm activations to identify and mitigate recurring false alarm triggers.

Remember, reducing false alarms is a shared responsibility. For instance, a gym’s smoke detector near showers might frequently trigger due to steam. It’s vital that staff and patrons do not become desensitized to alarms, as this could lead to dangerous complacency in actual emergencies.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is committed to enhancing safety and efficiency with these changes and appreciates the cooperation and understanding of the community and local businesses.

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