False alarms - changes to our response

Fire engine

While firefighters are responding to false alarms they are not available to tackle real fires.  False alarms waste essential resources, potentially putting lives at risk, and they disrupt other activities such as training and community fire safety work.

Automatic Fire Alarms: Our Response

In a single year Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service responded to more than 2,500 Automatic Fire Alarms. On 99% of occasions these were avoidable false alarms caused by either a faulty system or an accidental activation for example as a result of cooking fumes.

False alarms cost businesses time and money. They also divert firefighters from genuine emergencies and other duties. We are committed to reducing the number of these false alarms and so have adopted a policy around how we respond to Automatic Fire Alarms.

Since 1st April 2017, we no longer respond to an Automatic Fire Alarm (AFA) in a non-sleeping premises unless the alarm has been backed up by a call confirming that there is a fire.

View information about how we respond to Automatic Fire Alarms

Leaflet - Automatic Fire Alarms: Our Response (new window, PDF 226KB)

Unwanted Fire Signal (UwFS) Reduction Policy (new window, Word Document 648KB)

Amendments to AFA Policy (new window, Power Point Document 1714KB)

Automatic Fire Detection and Alarm System

The safety of your business premises and its occupants can be greatly enhanced by the installation of an Automatic Fire Detection and Alarm System

Properly used and maintained, the automatic system, with its fast response in detecting a fire, can be a significant factor in reducing the risk to life and limiting damage to your property.

Unfortunately, the very features that provide this fast response can also produce unwanted signals arising from activities other than a real fire.

About false alarms

A false alarm (also known as an unwanted fire signal) is a fire signal resulting from a cause other than a fire.

In other words, any call from an automatic fire alarm system, that the fire and rescue service attends, that is not actually a fire, is considered to be a false alarm.

How to prevent a false alarms

If you need more advice on reducing false alarms, please contact the Business Safety Team:

Contact the Business Safety Team at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service

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Last updated: Wednesday 08 December 2021