No-one wants false or unwanted alarms. For businesses they mean lost revenue, employee complacency and customer inconvenience. The Association of Chief Police Officers and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have been tasked to reduce the unnecessary fire service attendance to false alarms which is an expense which has to be recouped through higher taxation. This will be achieved through various management measures to be implemented in the coming years.

There are a number of reasons why false alarms occur. The most commonly cited examples are malicious activation or malfunctioning equipment, however, appropriate security measures and regular servicing should ensure that neither of these create a recurring problem.

The root cause of many of the unwanted activations lies in the technology.

Fire protection has become increasingly sophisticated over recent years and although the regulations which dictate how systems are managed have been updated, they have not kept pace with the complexity of the modern systems. Whilst alarms have become increasingly sensitive and offer much improved functionality they also require environmental tuning and regular servicing to ensure they work effectively.

Fire protection systems must be extremely sensitive to dangerous conditions, but not to other environmental conditions which do not pose a threat. This is a careful balancing act which requires ongoing management.

What can be done to reduce the financial burden of false alarms?

The most important elements of effective false alarm management are:

  • Using the most appropriate equipment
  • Managing the system on an on-going basis
  • Regular servicing.

A properly trained individual, backed up by an accredited fire protection contractor, can ensure optimum performance and, importantly, minimise the occurrence of false alarms.