Fire service advice to business owners after numerous false alarms

The CFOA has released guidance on the Reduction of False Alarms and Unwanted Fire Signals

The CFOA has released guidance on the Reduction of False Alarms and Unwanted Fire Signals

Over many years the Fire and Rescue Service have been working with partners to reduce the number of Unwanted Fire Signals (UwFS) that are generated from premises protected by automatic fire detection and fire alarm (AFA) systems.

A considerable reduction (about a third) has been seen in recent years.

However, despite this reduction, it remains clear that there is still the need for significant improved action associated with the management of false alarms and the numbers of resulting UwFS.

Overnight North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue went out on false alarms in Reeth, Harrogate, Northallerton and Selby.

CFOA Guidance

The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) have released the following guidance for the Reduction of False Alarms & Unwanted Fire Signals (PDF). The previous protocol formed the basis for many FRS policies on this issue and has led to many examples of notable practice with industry partners.

This new guidance advocates a partnership approach as being the best way to deal with the problem of UwFS from AFA systems. Clear responsibilities and expectations exist between all of the stakeholders, namely, the responsible person at the premises, the alarm receiving and monitoring centres, the industry sector responsible for the design, installation, servicing and maintenance of the system and the FRS.

A Toolkit Approach

The guidance provides a toolkit approach for FRS to formulate their local strategies and policies. It is designed to provide a step by step process with a holistic approach from the design stage through to installation, commissioning, management, filtering and the FRS response, performance monitoring and follow-up visits.

The toolkit comprises six key components:

  • Highlighting the problem of unwanted calls and false alarms from AFA systems
  • Prevention of false alarms
  • Confirmation of the cause of alarm before calling the Fire and Rescue Service
  • Call handling by the Fire and Rescue Service
  • Investigation and follow up of false alarm calls
  • Stakeholder engagement

It has been recognised that each FRS must determine which of the tools they wish to use in accordance with their respective arrangements for managing risk.

A key area where false alarms and unwanted fire signals can be reduced is through the Fire Alarm Monitoring Organisations. Appendix B of this guidance contains a Code of Practice for Summoning a Fire Response via Fire Alarm Monitoring Organisations. The Guidance details how this Code of Practice aligns with our recommended approach and should be referred to for further information.

Working Together

CFOA and the Fire Alarm Monitoring Industry have agreed to work together to meet four principle aims to improve management of fire alarm systems, false alarms and unwanted fire
signals. These comprise:

  • Agree and implement fire alarm monitoring protocols.
  • Agree and implement false alarm filtering protocols.
  • Agree and implement connection protocols between FRS and fire alarm monitoring centres.
  • Reduce unwanted fire signals.

The overall aim of the guidance is for all stakeholders to work together to ensure that ignoring persistent false alarms rather than fixing the problem, is not acceptable.


More information can be found within the guides below.

page_white_acrobat CFOA Guidance for the Reduction of False Alarms & Unwanted Fire Signals

page_white_acrobat Code of Practice: Best Practice for Summoning a Fire Response via Fire Alarm Monitoring Organisations