How to Prevent False Fire Alarms Discussed by Elite Fire & Security Services
False fire alarms are when an alarm system sounds without there being a fire, heat or smoke to set it off. It can also be from a manual fire alarm point being activated, either by mistake or maliciously. Find out how you can prevent False Fire Alarms and protect your business and property.
The purpose of a fire alarm is to warn people that they need to evacuate a building as there is heat, fire or smoke which sensors and detectors provide an early warning of. There are fire alarm systems that can do more than this and integrate with other security systems but this depends on how sophisticated the system is. Some fire alarm systems alert the emergency services as soon as they are activated.
A combination of heat, fire and smoke detection will automatically alert building occupants through sirens, bells, and warning lights giving them time to quickly and safely evacuate.
The UK fire alarm regulations legislate that all business premises must have ‘an appropriate fire alarm system’ in place to ensure if there is heat, fire or smoke detected the occupants of the property are warned quickly and can evacuate safely.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 details what you should know as a business when it comes to fire safety. Elite Fire & Security are experts when it comes to regulations and we can advise you about everything you need to be aware of when we come out to your property or site.
There are lots of different types of fire alarm systems:
- Conventional Fire Alarm
- Analogue Addressable Fire Alarm
- Addressable Fire Alarm
- Wireless Fire Alarm
The type of fire alarm system you have installed largely depends on your premises and its use. If you ever have people sleep in your property or business then you would need a different system, compared to a business that operates with no sleeping occupants. It depends on the size of your property if it is one storey or more, entry and exit points, as well as other considerations which Elite Fire & Security can advise you on.
As a professional fire alarm business, we are always up to date and fully understand the fire legislation in the UK and we can guide and advise you of the options available for you, your property and your business operation. We will design a bespoke system for you and we only use the leading brands and systems in the fire industry.
What are false fire alarms?
False fire alarms are really disruptive to businesses and they can result in people becoming anxious so you should do everything you can to prevent them. Too many false fire alarms will make people complacent and not follow the evacuation process as quickly as they should, if at all. It also wastes emergency service time and can prevent them from attending a real fire and getting there so quickly.
Any fire alarms, whether they are false, fire alarm tests or actual fires should be recorded in your fire alarm logbook, the date, time, why it happened and the specific location or fire alarm point which was activated. This demonstrates your compliance with Health & Safety and that any learnings are learnt from with actions being taken.
Malicious false fire alarms when a break glass system has been broken should be formally investigated to prevent and discourage them from happening, as well as understanding the reason why it has been done.
What are the reasons for false fire alarms?
There are many reasons why a fire alarm can falsely activate and there are lots of ways to prevent it.
Your Fire Alarm System Needs Servicing
You should have your system checked by a fire alarm specialist at least every 12 months to ensure it is working effectively, there are no worn parts or connections and it is in safe working order. Elite Fire & Security will service your fire alarm system for you annually and are on call to assess, identify and repair any issues you have at any time.
Incorrect Sensor Type
There are different types of sensors available for fire alarm systems and it could be there is one in an area that is causing you a problem and activating false alarms. As an example, heat sensors are used in kitchens where there is a risk of quick and fast-burning fires but they can be the cause of false alarms if they are not fitted in the correct positions.
Smoke sensors are often the preferred option in an office or retail space as they are best suited to identifying slow-burning fires. Their main issue, however, is they often don’t distinguish between smoke and dust or smoke and steam or smoke and cooking fumes. There are different levels and qualities of sensors available and the higher quality you opt for the more advanced it will be in detecting smoke, heat or fire.
Installing multi-sensor detectors is often the most reliable solution as they are more accurate in their identification which reduces the likelihood of false alarms within your business or property.
Elite Fire & Security can assess your existing fire alarm system. We have the knowledge and experience to identify any issues you have with your system, sensors as well as the combination of sensors you have and need for a safe and reliable fire alarm system for your property.
Loose Wires or Connections
If you have any loose wires or connection in your fire alarm system then it will often trigger false alarms. Elite Fire & Security will come out to your property and identify where the issue is and then repair it for you. An annual service will also check that all areas of your property are protected by your fire alarm system as you can have one area out of service and not know about it if you don’t have a visual control panel.
Control Panel Reset Issue
If you experience a false alarm and you are unable to reset your control panel then you should call out your fire safety specialist immediately. They will identify the problem and reset it so it is working as it should do. Always remember if you are without a working fire alarm system and fire does break out it could invalidate your insurance so you need to act quickly.
Whilst you wait for your fire specialist to attend you should put temporary measures in place to monitor different areas of your business or property. These can include staff members reviewing the different areas of the property at regular intervals and having a way to effectively alert people of a potential fire. These practices and measures should be documented in your fire safety log in case there is ever an issue.
At Elite Fire & Security we commit to getting to our customers quickly in these situations as we understand the risks of not having a fully functioning fire alarm system in place.
Older Style Fire Alarm System
If you have an older style fire alarm system and you are experiencing false alarms then it may mean that your system needs replacing.
There are many different types of fire alarm systems available and our team can service, repair and install all types of makes, models and systems.
We will come out to your property and conduct a full site assessment whilst learning about your business. We will advise you of the most suitable option for your property and business and give you a no-obligation quote for a bespoke fire system.
What are the impacts of false fire alarms?
- The impact of repeat false fire alarms are huge and they are not something that should not be ignored.
- They can result in your team members thinking every alarm is false and not evacuating as quickly as they should do if at all in some cases and this is dangerous.
- They often mean there is an issue within your system and can often be a warning for a complete breakdown.
- They cause disruption and loss of productivity and revenue to your business whilst everyone evacuates, the building is checked and they return to work.
- They take up the time of the fire brigade which can result in them not getting to a real fire situation.
- You can be fined by the fire services if you exceed a certain number of false alarms in 12 months.
What is the difference between a false fire alarm and a fire alarm test?
A false alarm is when your fire alarm system goes off and it hasn’t been planned as a test. It could be for any reason, a fault with your system or a false manual activation.
Why should you test your fire alarm regularly?
A regular fire alarm test checks your system and all its components, including the sound bells, are working as they should do. Your businesses “Responsible Person” should conduct a weekly fire system check which is normally completed at the same time every week. This ensures colleagues know it is the weekly test and they don’t need to evacuate unless the alarm doesn’t stop after the specified timescale.
As well as a weekly fire alarm test, an ad hoc fire alarm drill should be arranged which demonstrates your staff and occupants are able to evacuate your business or property quickly and safely, and these should be timed. You should have dedicated fire marshalls who will direct the drill and ensure everyone evacuates when and as they should do. You should have a fire point for staff that is a safe distance away from your property and they should wait there until the building has been checked and confirmed there is no fire or fire risk. If you have a large number of employees then they should have their own designated fire drill points and they should be accounted for when they are outside.
Both the fire alarm tests and drills should always be documented in your fire safety log.
Elite Fire & Security can discuss all of this with you and guide you to ensure you keep within the fire regulations, including checking all of your designated escape routes.
As a business you should check:
- Do you have a responsible person within your business?
- Have you reviewed your fire risk assessment in the last year?
- Have all your employees had their fire safety training in the last 12 months?
- Do you have dedicated fire marshalls and have they received the training they need?
- Has your fire alarm system been serviced in the last 12 months?
- When was your fire system installed and is it still fit for purpose for your business and property?
- Have you conducted a weekly fire alarm test?
- Have you conducted a fire drill in the last 3 months?
Elite Fire & Security, install, maintain, service and repair all types of fire and security systems. Our fire alarms are industry-leading fire detection systems that are the leaders in fire technology and systems.
We offer an on-site assessment of any existing fire systems and will evaluate if they meet current fire regulations and recommend any action that is needed.
Our fire alarm design and installation is conducted by our fully qualified fire engineer experts who install and test your system
As part of health and safety regulations, your building must have had a full fire risk assessment and fire escape plan documented. At Elite Fire & Security we offer everything you need to successfully pass fire regulations
We offer fire alarm maintenance and service contracts to keep your fire alarm system running and operating effectively and safely and take away the worry from you as a business owner
Elite Fire & Security is one of the South and South West’s UK’s leading fire safety specialists. We supply, install and maintain a wide range of British Standards Fire Systems and security products at premises throughout Bristol, Bath, the South West and London.
We offer a free, no-obligation site assessment and quotation service as well as professional and cost-effective fire and smoke detection that you can trust. Contact us today on 0333 577 1230 and one of our experts will be able to answer any questions you have or we can book your fire site assessment survey at a time to suit you.