Fire Service tells companies its response will no longer be automatic

Fire Service tells companies its response will no longer be automatic

In at least one part of mainland UK, changes being made to the way a Fire Service respond to automatic fire alarms mean greater ‘in house’ thought and care are needed about the response to the threat of fire.

Northamptonshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service will no longer respond at once to automatic fire detection systems, but will wait until a call has been made to confirm that there really is a fire. And that means any fire or smoke damage is likely to be greater than it otherwise might have been in the event of a fire really happening.

The policy change has come about because over a four-year period the brigade has turned out to 789 automatic fire alarm calls, but 722 hadn’t involved a fire. The new policy means that anywhere without a ‘sleeping risk’, including offices, shops, factories, warehouses, public buildings, theatres, cinemas, schools, sports grounds, museums, places of worship – and even hospitals between 8am and 8pm – won’t get an automatic response. However, the rules won’t change for places where people might be asleep, covering hospitals from 8pm to 8am. There are two other conditions that will trigger an automatic response from the brigade – a sprinkler system being activated, or the brigade having said the premises presents a special risk.

010614 fire automatic alarmsNorthamptonshire councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage said the Fire and Rescue Service could no longer send appliances to automatic fire alarms where there was no fire. He said such call-outs diverted resources from where they were really needed, adding that people had a duty to respond to their own alarms, and call the fire service only if signs of fire were confirmed.

So what does that mean for people with premises that won’t get an automatic response? We’d suggest the first step should be to re-visit the fire risk assessment of your own premises, either with the help of Fire Service or other suitably-qualified person, which might suggest making fire protection more robust.

As well as considering fireproof storage for valuable documents and assets, suitable automatic fire extinguishers can be fitted. All are intended to be triggered when a fire starts, but are supplied in different sizes and with different fire suppressants, depending on what they’ve been installed to protect, and its location. By doing so, they could be fighting the fire as the Brigade leaves the fire station – even in counties that haven’t followed Northamptonshire’s lead…

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