Report of the Chief Fire Officer
Craig Parkin, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, presented the report which informs the Committee of the number of Unwanted Fire alarm Signals (UwFS) which were triggered by automatic detection systems and the impact of the revised response policy to such alarms since its implementation 6 months ago.
The following points were highlighted and responses provided to members’ questions:
(a) With more than 3,000 UwFS per year, the demand on resources can be significant and frustrating, particularly on occasions when responding to what became apparent as false alarms coincided with crews being required to respond to genuine incidents;
(b) Following guidance issued by the National Fire Chief’s Council and approval by the Authority, the three Services of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire (Tri-Service collaboration) introduced a policy on how automated fire alarms are responded to;
(c) The new policy, which requires automated fire alarms in some categories of building to be challenged before fire crews attend, has resulted in a 17% reduction in UwFS, which equates to a 24% reduction in mobilisations per year;
(d) The Fire Service takes a staged approach to the engagement with businesses, following the fourth false alarm occasion Officers will attend the premises and provide advice and guidance and emphasise the potential impact of engaging an appliance and crew which may be needed elsewhere for a ‘risk to life’ incident. If there is a sixth occasion of a false alarm, the inspecting Fire Service Officer will undertake a full audit of the premises to ensure the business is complying to the standards expected and all further alarms will be challenged;
(e) NFRS is willing to enforce non-attendance, but only after repeated engagement and education has proved ineffective and it can be clearly evidenced as such, and the potential consequences of not responding can be shown to have been fully considered. Generally, Officers initially engaging with businesses provides the desired results of resolving false alarm issues;
(f) Alarms at schools during daytime are usually challenged as historically schools are very effective and efficient at evacuation which significantly reduces the risk to life, but also the responsible person is required to confirm if it is an isolated alarm triggered or multiple alarms which may indicate an actual incident, before calling the Service;
(g) Alarms at premises where anyone is sleeping, such as hotels and student accommodation, are automatically responded to without challenge;
(h) There are approximately 700 known properties listed within the county that have specific risks such as storing or using flammable materials. This information, along with aligned practices is shared between Tri-Service partners and can be shared with other Services.
Some members of the Committee queried the risk implications of attending cross boarder incidents outside of the Tri-Service area.
(1) to note the report and the reduction in unwanted fire alarm signals;
(2) for a further update report to be provided to the Committee in 6 months’ time, to include:
(i) a list of non-challenged premises;
(ii) more information on the response time impact of alarm challenging.