Fire crews see reduction of 52 false alarm call outs every day

Firefighters across Scotland are now attending more than 50 fewer false alarm call outs every day.

This follows an operational change where the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service no longer sends crews to automatic fire alarm (AFA) signals at commercial buildings such as offices, shops, and factories unless a fire or sign of fire is confirmed.

Previously firefighters were automatically mobilised to around 28,000 false alarms every year - resulting in more than 50,000 unnecessary blue-light journeys. These are known as Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals (UFAS).

Now, Operations Control call handlers ask a series of questions to determine whether an emergency response is required before any fire appliances are mobilised.

New figures show that this approach has reduced needless UFAS callouts for firefighters by an average of 52 every day.

As SFRS marks one year since the policy was implemented, Head of Prevention, Protection and Preparedness says this has helped to free up firefighters to attend genuine emergencies, undertake vital community safety work, and up skill in training activities.

Deputy Assistant Chief Officer Iain MacLeod said: "We exist to keep the people of Scotland safe and it's imperative that we ensure our staff and resources are available when needed most.

“Be rest assured that we will always attend every emergency and strive to do so as quickly and effectively as possible.

“This change has dramatically reduced the number of unnecessary callouts over the past year, but we know there is more work we can do.

"Previously, false alarms accounted for almost one third of our activity across Scotland and this placed a drain on front line services.

“It also increased risk to road users, had a negative environmental impact due to the volume of response, and caused sustained interruption to businesses.

“This change is undoubtedly having a positive impact on reducing unnecessary operational demand, freeing up our firefighters to attend genuine emergencies and engaging with local communities on essential fire prevention work.

“We must thank businesses and dutyholders for their support and cooperation in ensuring the safety of their premises and contributing to this positive change.”


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This change has also helped to reduce SFRS’s environmental impact by cutting approximately 286 tonnes of carbon emissions from operational fleet in the last year.

It follows a public consultation held in 2021.

DACO MacLeod added: "We are pleased by the early indicators both in reducing unnecessary operational demand and our environmental impact, which were both key targets as part of this change.

“We will continue to monitor this new operational response model and will take time to consider the findings of the last 12 months to ensure we can continue to deliver the best emergency service for the people of Scotland."

For more information on the new response policy and for business advice or guidance, please visit Reducing Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals (UFAS) | Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

  • As of 1 July 2023, SFRS no longer attends automatic fire alarm (AFA) callouts to workplace premises such as factories, offices, shops, and leisure facilities unless there is a confirmed fire. Dutyholders must now safely investigate fire alarms before calling 999. Control room operators will ask for confirmation of an actual fire or signs of fire before dispatching the nearest resource.
  • The new response policy does not apply to buildings with a sleeping risk, such as hospitals, care homes, hotels, or domestic dwellings, which will continue to receive an immediate emergency response.
  • The change in response policy was effective from 1 July 2023; however, statistics are based on nine months of data (July 2023 to March 2024) as the full 12 months of data is not yet available.
  • On average, SFRS mobilises two appliances to each UFAS incident.