False fire alarms are a serious problem. In 2015/16 they made up around 40% of all incidents attended by fire and rescue services in England and Wales. They can be costly to businesses as well as to the fire and rescue services and it’s been estimated around £1 billion a year is wasted annually in the UK as a result of them.
Responding to false alarms takes the fire and rescue services away from their fire-prevention duties, training programmes and from dealing with real emergencies. False alarms cause business disruption that affects customer service and productivity levels. If they happen regularly, people could become casual about reacting when they hear the alarm going. That could result in a slower reaction time to a genuine fire with devastating consequences.
What causes false alarms in the workplace?
There are many reasons why fire alarms are triggered when a fire hasn’t broken out.
It could be the result of faulty equipment or even equipment that’s functioning correctly but isn’t suitable for its location. Human error could be a factor with someone using the system inappropriately. An alarm may trigger as a result of reacting to activity near the detector: fumes from cooking, steam, pollutants, dust from building work and even insects are just some of the reasons an alarm may go off. Unfortunately they can also sometimes be triggered due to vandalism or other malicious activity too.
If you’ve had several instances of false alarms being triggered, you need to investigate the cause. Use the control panel information to identify which detector was triggered (if no detector was triggered, it may be a fault in the system). Log all the information and analyse when and where the false alarms happened to identify any patterns that may help pinpoint the cause.
What steps can you take to reduce them?
- Get a competent person to maintain and check your fire alarm system. Effective, regular maintenance helps prevent equipment faults from happening in the first place and ensures any problems are identified and dealt with quickly. That’s important for avoiding false alarms but also vital for making sure the alarm will do its job in a real emergency.
- Make sure people who work in the area understand how they can play their part in not triggering fire alarms accidentally.
- If building work is taking place, identify and implement appropriate steps to reduce the risk of false alarms such as isolating zones or using temporary detector covers.
- Attach flea collars (yes, really) around smoke detector heads if they’re prone to insect infiltration.
- If there is a change of use to your building, your fire alarm system might not be appropriate anymore. Contact your alarm maintenance company and get their advice.
- If false alarms are an ongoing issue and you suspect malicious activity, you might want to consider getting CCTV installed in the area with clearly visible signs alerting people to its presence.
- If your system is old, and false alarms have become an ongoing problem, it might be time to consider replacement. The cost of a new system could be at least partly offset by the savings from avoiding the disruption caused by false alarms.
Our false alarm free guarantee
Fire alarm technology has transformed over the past few years and Siemens have a fire alarm system like no other which can help businesses and organisations drastically reduce false alarms. Jackson Fire and Security are an approved installer of Siemens Cerberus PRO, a system with advanced signal analysis detectors that use cutting-edge algorithm technology to determine whether it’s detected an actual fire and has been tested in over 5000 fire and false alarm scenarios.
We have such confidence in its reliability that if a false alarm does trigger at a cost to our clients, we’ll pay them £1000. You’ll find more details about our false alarm free guarantee as well as further details on how to book a free consultation. If you’d like to find out more about the Siemens Cerberus PRO or any of the other fire alarm systems we install, please get in touch.