An automatic fire alarm detects a potential fire, alerting occupants or an alarm company to call 999.
The consultation proposes that the Brigade will not attend automatic fire alarms in non-residential buildings, such as office blocks or industrial estates, during the day – unless a call is also received from a person reporting a fire.
The Brigade will always respond to all 999 calls from members of the public reporting fires at any location across London. The Brigade will also continue to respond to automatic fire alarms from residential buildings, such as homes.
Less than one percent of automatic fire alarms signal genuine fires – the remaining 99 per cent are false alarms, placing an unnecessary burden on the Brigade’s resources. Last year, the Brigade attended around 60 false alarms generated by automatic fire alarms in non-residential properties each day. Responding to these incidents took up roughly 23,500 hours of firefighters’ time.
If the Brigade reduces time spent attending false alarms, firefighters will have more time available to dedicate to preventing fires and improving community safety. This includes fire safety checks in homes and businesses, as well as operational training.
All but four fire and rescue services across the United Kingdom already have similar policies in place.
The Brigade is proposing to continue to respond to automatic fire alarms in buildings where people are likely to be sleeping or hazardous materials might be present. The Brigade would also continue to respond to automatic fire alarms in buildings of substantial public significance such as heritage sites.
Deputy Commissioner Dominic Ellis said: “We are here to keep London’s communities safe, and we want to do this as effectively as possible.
“The Brigade spends thousands of hours each year attending false alarms generated by automatic fire alarms at non-residential buildings. Reducing our attendance at these false alarms will give us more time to focus on keeping our communities safe. We will always attend an emergency if you call us.”
“We want to hear from businesses and other partners who will be affected by these proposals so that we can take on board your feedback before taking a decision.”
Feedback from the consultation will inform the Brigade’s new strategy for responding to automatic fire alarms. More information on responding to the consultation can be found on the Brigade’s website. The consultation will close on 25 October 2023.