Welcome to the Automatic Fire Alarm (AFA) Working Group
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MF&RS) is committed to supporting “Safer
Stronger Communities; Safe Effective Firefighters”.
As part of this commitment
the Community Protection Department (Legislative Fire Safety) will assist
organisations in reducing the economic cost of lost productivity and business
disruption due to false alarms generated by activations, known as when an alarm "actuates",
of their Automatic Fire Alarm systems.
Continued unnecessary attendance to such
incidents is clearly unacceptable and unsustainable due to the adverse economic impact on the
business community and other sectors. The effect on the commercial sector alone
in lost time, business disruption and productivity caused by false alarms is
estimated, nationally, to be in excess of £1 billion each year.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service has responded to all Automatic Fire Alarm (AFA)
generated calls with the full predetermined attendance which the premise has
been risk assessed for. This has an adverse effect on the premises in that each
time a Fire Alarm actuates the premises have to evacuate, and, together with the
response time of the Fire Service, the time taken to investigate the actuation
by the Fire Service and the time taken to repopulate the premises after the
system is reset all adds up to an economic cost to the premises due to lost
production/time, or represents a significant disruption to the premises core
business activities in, for example, a hospital.
There is no legal responsibility
for any Fire and Rescue Service to respond to calls originating from an AFA
system - to establish if there is a fire. Rather, it is the legal
responsibility, as detailed within the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order
2005, of the "Responsible Person" at the property to have in place a suitable
and sufficient Fire Risk Assessment that details, amongst other measures, what
actions are to be taken upon actuation of the Automatic Fire Alarm system. One
such action is to investigate the reason for the actuation of the system and
then notify the Fire Service via the 999 system if a fire is confirmed.
the various strategies employed by the Service, the numbers of calls are still
increasing and, with the advent of cheaper technology, new legislation, and the
unreliability of older AFA systems, it is envisaged that the number of false
alarms generated across Merseyside will only continue to rise. This, as a
consequence, will have a negative impact on service delivery, community safety
engagement activity and essential risk critical training for Firefighters. It
also increases the risk to Firefighters, other road users and pedestrians
through unnecessary vehicle movements under emergency response conditions.
the 19th January 2012 Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority passed an agenda item to change
the response of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service to Automatic Fire Alarm
actuations. This change in practice, whilst agreed in principle by the Fire
Authority, will be phased in following consultation with stakeholders - so in
the interim Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service will continue with its current
policy to respond to all actuations of all Automatic Fire Alarms.
all residential property - where the responsibility for the safety of the
occupiers rests with the individuals who reside there, will receive a full
emergency response to all actuations of their Automatic Fire Alarm systems under
the new policy, as they continue to do so under the current one.