According to the latest statistics, firefighters responded to a total of 28,713 such incidents over the course of 2019 – resulting in around 54,000 unnecessary blue light journeys.
Fire Alarm Systems are designed to provide an early warning of fire so that members of the public have ample time to exit a building and make their way to a place of safety.
They form a vital part of any fire safety strategy - and remain one of the most effective ways to protect customers, staff and any public or commercial premises from the effects of fire.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of signals from these systems are not generated by fire but other causes such as a fault in the system or cooking, steam, dust, smoking or vaping.
This can lead to crews being turned out unnecessarily to what is a false alarm – otherwise known as an unwanted fire alarm signal (UFAS).
The 28,713 UFAS calls in 2019 represented 31 per cent of all incidents attended by Scottish Fire and Rescue Service within non-domestic properties such as hotels, shops, residential care homes and hospitals. This campaign is intended to reach everyone who uses, visits or works in any of these premises.
The Service continues to work with partners and is now launching a new “Be Aware” campaign designed to promote public awareness of simple steps that can be taken when visiting or staying within our hotels, guest houses and other accommodation/residential premises to reduce false alarms.
These steps include:
- Do not mistake fire alarm break glass points for GREEN door exit points
- Do not smoke or vape inside the building or in your room
- Take care when using toasters, kettles, dryers, straighteners
- Steam can set off alarms, so keep bathroom doors closed and extractor fans on when using baths, showers and sinks
- Never remove, cover up or damage smoke or heat detector heads to prevent them activating
- Know your escape route and the location of your closest fire exit. Never wedge fire doors open and close doors behind you when evacuating.
Assistant Chief Officer Ross Haggart is the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service's Director of Prevention and Protection.
He said: “We as a Service encourage the use of automatic fire detection as it helps save lives and protect buildings.
“However, false alarms, such as those that are caused by system faults or as a consequence of unintended actions, are an unnecessary drain on our resources and present undue risk for our firefighters and the public from appliances responding to these calls under blue light conditions.
“For businesses and other organisations it can result in an impact on costs including lost revenue and the real danger of staff becoming complacent.”
He added: “We are committed to working with duty holders and, where appropriate, improving management arrangements within premises to reduce the number of unwanted fire alarm signals. In addition, it is important to raise awareness with the public in how they can play their part when visiting or staying in those premises.
“That is why we are launching this campaign to encourage members of the public and staff to “Be Aware” of their actions in buildings and how these can help reduce false alarms and prevent fire crews from responding to UFAS incidents.
“This will greatly assist organisations in managing their fire alarm systems to reduce business disruption and the number of unnecessary blue light journeys.
“However, we should make clear that through robust and flexible strategic planning, our crews are always ready to respond to any incident to keep our communities safe.”
Notes to editor:
- The “Be Aware” campaign is spearheaded by the SFRS ‘Fire Safety Enforcement’ team and focusses on business safety advice which can be found here: FACEBOOK - @SFRS.FSE and TWITTER - @SFRS_FSE
- SFRS continues to work in partnership and is not seeking any extension of legislative powers to allow charging for responding to calls similar to those within England and Wales.
- The SFRS is keen to support businesses to ensure they have the appropriate advice to assist them with reducing false alarms.
- Further advice can be found on the SFRS website at /your-safety/for-businesses/unwanted-fire-alarm-(ufas).aspx or by contacting your local Fire Safety Enforcement office.
- For more information on how to prevent UFAS, visit www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/for-businesses/unwanted-fire-alarm-(ufas) plus follow the new social media channels.
- A short video made in conjunction with the National Fire Chief’s Council about UFAS reduction measures can be found at https://youtu.be/kKD7katMS5k