Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is changing the way it responds to automatic fire alarms. From 1 April 2014 the fire service will not respond to calls from automatic fire alarm systems in business premises between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday to Friday, unless a fire is confirmed by a 999 call.
This change is the result of an ongoing concern with the large number of false alarms from automatic systems. In the past these have seen fire engines rushing to the scene, even when it was obvious to people in the building that there was no fire.
Chief Fire Officer and Director of Community Protection Roy Wilsher said “Attending false alarm calls not only increases the risk to the public, with fire engines driving on blue lights for no good reason, but also means that equipment and crews aren’t available for genuine emergency calls.
“Obviously we will still respond to genuine emergencies and 999 calls. However this change of policy will mean that we spend less time responding to false alarms and more time available to deal with fires when they do break out.”
The fire service will continue to respond to automatic alarms overnight and at weekends, when premises are typically unoccupied. Alarms from premises which contain vulnerable people such as hospitals, hostels, care homes and schools are not affected by this new policy.
Richard Thake, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said “False alarms don’t do business owners any favours either. We are working closely with premises that have repeatedly been the source false alarms to help them understand why that’s happening and to improve their systems.
“We’re hopeful that this new policy will substantially cut the number of false alarms we attend, but if we still find we’re getting a lot false alarms from a particular building we might have to look at charging that business for our time.”
Fire Inspection Officers will continue to work with building planners and owners to ensure that suitable alarm systems are fitted and that they are properly maintained and working.
For further information on the new policy please visit www.hertsdirect.org and search for Fire and Rescue Service