Preventing false alarms

Did you know that the vast majority of signals from automatic fire alarms are not actual fires?  Fire alarm and detection systems react to an increase in heat or the presence of smoke. Unfortunately, they can also react to things such as steam, cigarette smoke, aerosol sprays, and light smoke from cooking.

We understand that false alarms happen – but you should take care to reduce the likelihood, and if there is a false alarm, take appropriate action.

Tragically, people have died thinking a real fire was ‘just another false alarm’. Most false alarms are the result of an activity such as cooking, smoking or hot works or sometimes simply because the system was not taken off-line when being tested.

It’s important to minimize the false alarms to prevent complacency. If false alarms occur, it’s important not to unnecessarily transmit them to London Fire Brigade. 

Why are false alarms dangerous?

  • Fire crews should be at real emergencies – where they could be saving lives.
  • The ‘crying wolf’ factor – frequent false alarms in a building cause staff to become complacent and less willing to act quickly when the alarm activates.
  • Unnecessary risk – we travel at high speed to attend ‘emergency’ calls and accidents can happen. False alarms put the public and our crews at unnecessary risk.

Reducing false alarms

Thankfully, there is a lot you can do to reduce false alarms. Much of it is simple common sense – and part of your legal responsibilities already. 

  1. Make sure the fire alarm design suits the premises design and use.

  2. Make sure the alarm system is properly and regularly maintained

  3. Investigate false alarms and work with maintainers to build in measures that prevent unnecessary recurrence.

  4. Introduce a suitable filtering process – a means to safely investigate why the fire alarm went off BEFORE calling for the fire brigade.

  5. Consult with suitable professionals for relevant advice.

  6. Don’t forget you can talk to us if you’re struggling to resolve the problem and need guidance.