Our Policy

When an Automatic Fire Alarm (AFA) actuates for any reason other than a fire condition, this is referred to as a false alarm. The point at which the Fire and Rescue Service is requested and responds to a false alarm is referred to as an Unwanted Fire Signal (UwFS).

MFRS will not provide an emergency response to fire calls generated by AFA systems unless a call is received via the 999 system confirming a fire, or physical signs of fire, at the premises in question. This protocol will apply 24 hours a day unless an exemption is granted.  Some of these exemptions are automatically applied and some have to be applied for (“exceptional” exemptions).

Automatic Exemptions:

  • All single private domestic dwellings and all dwellings where the responsibility for the safety of the occupier rests with the individuals who reside there will automatically BE EXEMPT from this policy 24 hours a day. This includes:
  • Single dwellings
  • Sheltered housing
  • Houses of multiple occupancy (HMO)
  • Multi-storey accommodation
  • Sleeping risk premises are automatically exempt between night-time hours from 19:30 to 07:30. This includes:
  • Hospitals
  • Hostels
  • Hotels
  • All premises with a reliable AFA system that meets the MFRS definition of ‘coincidence’ and the standard set out in BS5839-1:2017. Where a ‘coincidence’ system develops a trend of unwanted fire signals (UwFS), the automatic exemption status of the concerned premises may be reviewed and in the absence of a satisfactory resolution, may be revoked

Exceptional Exemptions:

Any Responsible Person that considers their premises to have exceptional circumstances, due to a fire risk assessment which relies on MFRS responding to investigate fire alarm actuations in order to ensure the safety of occupants, may apply for an exceptional exemption. The aim of an exceptional exemption is to allow Responsible Persons a reasonable window of opportunity to address the failings in their fire risk assessment.

Each case is considered on its own merits and must meet the following conditions:

  • The onus is on the Responsible Person to submit their case to MFRS.
  • The case must be based upon high risk to persons resulting from MFRS’ UwFS protocol.
  • Exemptions will not be granted where MFRS believe that the Responsible Person can take reasonable action to mitigate the risk.
  • Exemptions will only be a temporary measure; they will be reviewed within 12 months and MFRS expect the Responsible Person to work towards achieving a permanent satisfactory solution, e.g. upgrading alarm systems to a ‘double knock’ system or employing staff to manage the risk etc.

An exemption can be requested via email sent to AFAEnquiries@merseyfire.gov.uk