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Automatic Fire Alarm (AFA) response

To support efforts to reduce unnecessary attendances to Unwanted False Alarm Signals (UFAS), the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is changing how it responds to workplace automatic fire alarm (AFA) activations from April 2023.

The change will not affect how we respond to alarms in private homes.

SFRS will support workplaces to prevent false alarms by working with those who have a responsibility for fire safety, known as a duty holder, to understand their legal obligation under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005.

At its meeting in December 2021, the SFRS Board agreed that, following a period to allow duty holders to review their fire safety arrangements, the following response model will be introduced to workplaces:

  • Call challenge all AFAs from non-domestic premises, unless exempt.
  • No response is mobilised if questioning confirms there is no fire or signs of fire.
  • Sleeping risk premises are exempt from call challenging and will receive the following immediate response;
    • Residential care home will receive an attendance of two fire appliances regardless of time of day
    • All other sleeping risks will receive an attendance of one fire appliance between 0700-1800hrs and two fire appliances between 1800-0700hrs.
    • Sleeping risk areas within Hospitals (such as ward and theatre areas) will receive an attendance of two fire appliances regardless of time of day.

To prepare themselves for the implementation of this new response model, duty holders should consider the following actions:

  • Familiarisation with Guidance for Responsible Persons on False Alarm Management of Fire Detection and Alarm Systems
  • Identify all relevant workplaces that they have responsibility for.
  • Review the fire risk assessment for these workplaces.
  • Review fire safety management arrangements, including appropriate staff training, based on the outcome of the fire risk assessment.
  • If the workplace alarm system is linked to an alarm receiving centre (ARC), liaise with the ARC to ensure the details and contacts of the workplace held on their systems are up to date and accurate.
  • Ensure staff and relevant persons do not rely upon an alarm system to alert the SFRS to any fire event. Always call 999 even if the alarm is sounding.

If you require further information or have any queries, then please email: SFRS.EnforcementCentre@firescotland.gov.uk

Useful Links:

Employer Duties - https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/business-advice/employer-duties/

Fire Risk Assessment - https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/business-advice/fire-risk-assessment/

False Alarm Reduction - https://www.firescotland.gov.uk/your-safety/business-advice/unwanted-fire-alarm-signals-ufas/

Practical Fire Safety Guidance Documents (Non-Domestic Premises) - https://www.gov.scot/policies/fire-and-rescue/non-domestic-fire-safety/

Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 - https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2005/5/contents