Fire Brigade updates on Automatic Fire Alarm systems

Businesses, business owners and managers across Wirral are being urged to make sure they are aware of an approach to Automatic Fire Alarm systems that aims to cut false alarms.

From November 1st 2013, calls from automatic fire alarms are being challenged whatever time they are received, day or night, by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s Mobilising and Communications Centre, MACC.  An emergency response will only be sent if a fire is confirmed or there are physical signs of a fire.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Phil Garrigan said, “Although we are encouraged with the reduction in false alarms we have seen so far we want to reduce the numbers evems that aims to cut false alarms. We need to have fire appliances available to respond to actual fires and emergencies, particularly as public spending cuts have seen the Service reduce the number of its frontline appliances from 42 down to 28.

“There is no legal requirement for Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service to respond to calls originating from automatic systems. We have held a number of communication sessions, listened to concerns and worked with businesses across Merseyside. Any Responsible Person/s with any specific concerns about their premises should contact us directly.   Remember, if you smell, see or hear a fire call 999 and ask for the fire service.”

Phase one, introduced on October 31, 2012, saw Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service challenging calls to its Mobilising and Communications Centre, MACC, between the hours of 7.30am and 7.30pm, which were received as a result of an Automatic Fire Alarm activation.

This meant that if a fire was not confirmed or there were no physical signs of fire, only one fire appliance was sent at normal road speed to educate and inform the “Responsible Person” of the revised strategy and the Service’s approach.

Although the approach has now been extended to 24-hours a day, all sleeping accommodation, such as hospitals, nursing/residential homes and hotels, will be exempted from this approach between night-time hours, from 7.30pm to 7.30am.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Phil Garrigan added, “The aim of our new approach was to reduce the number of calls received annually to unwanted false alarms, which cause disruption to premises, disrupt our community safety work and training and most importantly reduces our availability to respond to real emergencies.  We understand this risk-based approach creates challenges for businesses and other building owners and we will continue to support them in the development of their fire risk management, but, it is at a time when budget cuts are having a very real impact on the Service.  Unwanted Fire Signals had increased by 13.7% over the past five years despite numerous strategies implemented by MF&RS to reduce them. In one period of time false alarms accounted for more than 95% of calls to automatic fire alarms.”

The risk-based approach and education campaign included significant engagement with businesses, hospitals and automatic fire alarm receiving centre’s who have all helped to reduce false alarms so far.  Of the 6,108 calls to automatic fire alarms received in 2011, 95% (5,802) were Unwanted Fire Signals

Newspaper adverts were printed  in the Wirral News and Liverpool Echo in October 2012 to highlight the new approach. Adverts were also published in the Wirral News, Liverpool Echo and the Liverpool Post in November 2013 to again highlight the move to call challenging 24-hours a day.

Duties of a Responsible Person can be found on this link - www.communities.gov.uk/fire/firesafety/firesafetylaw/

More information on the approach to Automatic Fire Alarms can be found at www.merseyfire.gov.uk and emails can also be sent to AFAEnquiries@merseyfire.gov.uk

 

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