Reduction of unwanted fire signals (UwFS) policy

Aims and objectives

The aims and objectives of this policy are to:

  • Reduce the number of UwFS by requiring the design, installation, commissioning and testing and maintenance of fire alarm systems to be carried out by competent persons in accordance with the appropriate standards.
  • Reduce the impact on businesses from UwFS.
  • Improve liaison with the Business Fire Safety (BFS) Department to ensure that at audit the ‘Responsible Person’ as defined under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO) is made aware of their duty to take overall responsibility for the performance of the fire alarm system.
  • Improve the fire safety management of premises by promoting the appropriate management of automatic fire alarms (AFAs), i.e. call delay, on- site call filtering.
  • Reduce UwFS to increase occupier’s confidence in fire alarm systems and to avoid complacency.
  • Monitor the performance of fire alarm systems.
  • Liaise with Fire Alarm Monitoring Organisations (FAMOs) and Alarm Receiving Centres (ARC) to improve false alarm filtering.
  • Promote robust 999 call challenging by Fire Control operators.
  • Ensure the most appropriate FRS response in terms of the Pre Determined Attendance (PDA) and follow up by the Protection Department (Business Fire Safety).
  • Reduce the potential dangers to firefighters and members of the public when responding under emergency conditions.

Role of the Protection Team (Business Fire Safety)

  • Performance monitoring and evaluation of premises
  • Liaise with premises that have generated UwFS and offer appropriate advice to reduce or eliminate these occurrences.
  • Carry out a Fire Safety Audit (FSA) if poor performance and other information gathered in relation to a premises indicates it is warranted.
  • Support the reduction of UwFS by increasing the emphasis put on the duties of the Responsible Person including responsibility for
  • the premises emergency action plan (specifically on site call filtering measures)
  • testing, maintenance and management of fire alarm systems during the audit process
  • discuss out of hours arrangements for monitored premises, in particular the availability of a key holder to attend within 20 minutes of the time of call
  • Carrying out enforcement action under the Regulatory Reform Order as appropriate.
  • Continuing to promote awareness of UwFS through the Building Regulations consultation process for new and altered buildings.
  • Promoting the awareness of issues surrounding UwFS during Business Education Seminars.
  • Liaison with Fire Control as appropriate.
  • Liaison with operational crews as appropriate.

Role of Operational Crews

  • Investigate the causes of UwFS and if appropriate give advice to the Responsible Person as to how to avoid recurrent calls (for example closing of doors whilst cooking, relocation of appliances causing false actuations). N.B. under no circumstances should crews give advice on making alterations to the design or layout of the fire alarm system.
  • Reiterate the requirements for the Responsible Person to test, maintain and manage the fire alarm system.
  • Complete accurately and as comprehensively as possible the UwFS Investigation Form (FB357) to include the affected detector head’s I.D. number or the exact location of the head if it is not a fully addressable system. Return pink copy to the Protection Team (BFS) immediately on return to station or as soon as reasonably practicable.
  • Under no circumstances must crews reset fire alarm panels, remove detector heads or replace break glass call points.
  • During out of hours or at unoccupied premises, the Incident Commander should determine the appropriate course of action based on a Dynamic Risk Assessment. Wherever possible, if the decision is made to leave the premises without gaining entry, the FB357 should be completed and either posted through the door or left in a prominent position for the attending key holders attention.
  • Continue to support the Protection Team by reporting any matters arising, e.g. issues with key holder attendance for out of hours access, other evidence of the Responsible Person not carrying out their duties effectively.

Role of Fire Control

The Fire Control teams will:

  • Mobilise appliances to calls in accordance with this policy. It is essential that the control operator/supervisor will at all times retain the authority to mobilise at their own discretion based on information available to them on receipt of a call.
  • Adopt a robust ‘call challenge’ procedure.
  • Liaise with the Protection Team (Business Fire Safety) as appropriate.

Premises Performance Monitoring Levels

The Service continually monitors the levels of UwFS and looks reduce these levels where possible. This is done by statistical monitoring, local information and trend analysis as well as comparison of a site’s activations against national guidance in order to determine those who have a disproportionate number of activations. Where measures are put in place, the site is monitored in order to determine the effect of those changes which allows for measure to be refined. Overall strategy planning is reviewed annually and the Service Protection Strategy is formed from the outcomes of the Integrated Risk Management Plan which covers a five year period of time.

The following recommendations are applicable in accordance with BS 5839-1: 2017 for an acceptable rate of false alarms.

The user should instigate an in-depth investigation by suitable specialists if, in any rolling period of 12 months, either:

  1. The average rate of false alarms exceeds one false alarm per 25 detectors per annum; or
  2. Two or more false alarms are initiated by any single manual call point or automatic fire detector (or detector location) since the last service visit
  3. More than 11 false alarms have occurred since the last service visit, typically, within the previous 6 months);

Should a premises exceed the limitations on an acceptable level of false alarms then a review of this premises should be undertaken by the Protection Team (BFS)

If following this review it is apparent that the Responsible Person has not taken the appropriate actions in order to address UwFS from the premises, or that there are fundamental issues with the standard of general fire precautions indicative of poor fire safety management, then this premises may be subject to a level 2 or 3 response

Reporting lines

The (UwFS) lead within the Protection Team (BFS) will report directly to the Station Manager BFS, who has responsibility for monitoring our performance against UwFS targets.

The Station Manager BFS will report progress monthly to the Head of Prevention at the Monthly Prevention Manager’s meeting.

Fire and Rescue Service Attendance Levels

SFRS has set the following AFA mobilising policy:

1 pumping appliance mobilised to any AFA plus;

A second pumping appliance is mobilised to life risk premises between 2200 and 0800 hours.

Some special risks generate a specific predetermined attendance which is offered by the Command & Control system; these are not impacted by this policy.

Further Information

Business Fire Safety

Telephone: 01743 260 200