LFB begins consultation to reduce attendance at false alarms

An automatic fire alarm detects a potential fire, alerting occupants or an alarm company to call 999. The consultation proposes that the Brigade will not attend automatic fire alarms in non-residential buildings, such as office blocks or industrial estates, during the day – unless a call is also received from a person reporting a fire.

Responding to emergencies

The Brigade will always respond to all 999 calls from members of the public reporting fires at any location across London. The Brigade will also continue to respond to automatic fire alarms from residential buildings, such as homes.

Less than one percent of automatic fire alarms signal genuine fires - the remaining 99 per cent are false alarms, placing an unnecessary burden on the Brigade’s resources. Last year, the Brigade attended around 60 false alarms generated by automatic fire alarms in non-residential properties each day. Responding to these incidents took up roughly 23,500 hours of firefighters’ time.

If LFB reduces time spent attending false alarms, firefighters will have more time available to dedicate to preventing fires and improving community safety. This includes fire safety checks in homes and businesses, as well as operational training.

All but four fire and rescue services across the United Kingdom already have similar policies in place.

Our Proposal

LFB is proposing to continue to respond to automatic fire alarms in buildings where people are likely to be sleeping or where hazardous materials might be present. The Brigade would also continue to respond to automatic fire alarms in buildings of substantial public significance such as heritage sites. Deputy Commissioner Dominic Ellis said, “We are here to keep London’s communities safe, and we want to do this as effectively as possible. The Brigade spends thousands of hours each year attending false alarms generated by automatic fire alarms at non-residential buildings. Reducing our attendance at these false alarms will give us more time to focus on keeping our communities safe. We will always attend an emergency if you call us. We want to hear from businesses and other partners who will be affected by these proposals so that we can take on board your feedback before taking a decision.”

Feedback from the consultation will inform the LFB’s new strategy for responding to automatic fire alarms. More information on responding to the consultation can be found on the Brigade’s website. The consultation will close on 25th October 2023.

The consultation puts forward the following proposal: 

LFB will not attend automatic fire alarms at non-residential premises between 7am and 6pm, however; 

Premises containing a sleeping risk will continue to receive an emergency response – this is: 

  • Private houses/ dwellings
    • Flats (including high-rise)
    • Houses of multiple occupation
    • Mobile/ park homes
    • Houseboats
    • Hospitals
    • Residential care homes/ nursing homes/ hospices
    • Specialised housing premises (e.g. sheltered housing, extra care sheltered housing, supported living)
    • Children’s homes
    • Student accommodation/ halls of residence
    • Residential boarding schools
    • Hotels/ motels/ B&Bs and other guest accommodation
    • Hostels
    • Prisons/ Youth Offender’s institutions/ other secure establishments
  • High risk sites storing volumes of dangerous substances (COMAH sites) will continue to receive an emergency response.
  • Buildings of substantial public significance, where exemption is considered appropriate through an annual assessment of risk, will also continue to receive an emergency response.

Consultees will then be asked the following questions: 

  1. Having considered the proposals, do you have any concerns about our new approach?
  2. How can we help you to address those concerns?
  3. Are there any other exemptions that LFB should consider?
  4. How can LFB support organisations to be ready for this change?
  5. Is there anything else you want to add?

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