Given the significant press coverage most of you are no doubt already aware of the current controversy surrounding some fire and rescue services’ change in policy regarding the response to automatic fire alarms. According to Martin Harvey Chairman of the FIA there are now 29 different response policies in operation across 43 fire and rescue services.
If you are responsible for fire safety in a building may need to amend and update your policies/emergency plans to make provision for these new Fire Brigade policies which differ throughout the country.
Speaking to an audience of insurers and fire safety professionals Mr Harvey illustrated how there could easily be delays in responding to situations in cases where a fire had broken out but the alarm receiving centre was unable to get confirmation by telephone.
In the case he used to illustrate; an alarm receiving centre passed on an automatic fire alarm from an Iceland store in Nuneaton to the Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service but the fire service control room refused to send a response without human confirmation. As all the staff and customers had been safely evacuated from the building the alarm receiving centre was unable to receive confirmation by telephone. A response was only activated some time later when the fire service received a 999 call from someone outside the building.
Mr Harvey sympathised with the fire service in dealing with false alarms saying he thought that businesses should be looking at their fire risk assessments and looking for ways to reduce false alarms such as by investigating whether it was feasible to train designated staff such as fire wardens in the safe verification of such alarms.
If your building has an automatic link to a monitoring centre MetroSRM are able to review your emergency plans and make sure they are amended where required to take this into account. A delay in ensuring that the correct action is taken may mean greater damage to your property and potentially risking lives.