The Unwanted False Alarm Signal (UFAS) investigation led by Assistant Chief Officer Lewis Ramsay (Director of Prevention & Protection, SFRS) reported that fire detection and alarm systems were “responsible for a large number of false alarms, 293,100 of which were recorded in 2013-14”. This resulted in an estimated cost for businesses of £1 Billion a year, “due to the disruption and loss of productivity”. These false alarms also reduce the confidence of the general public and increasingly add to the poor attitude with a delayed reaction for fire alarm activations.
False alarm causes recorded in the greater Glasgow area between December 2014 and March 2015 included 325 faults, 116 accidental activations and 374 unknown (which could very likely include more faults, being the second highest statistic).
There is a video online titled ‘Human behaviour during a fire alarm’ that displays the current approach to how people react to an alarm without the obvious signs of smoke or fire itself. The complacency displayed to an actively sounding alarm shows how dangerous a fire could become. When people do not take any alarm activation seriously it dramatically increases the possibility of being trapped in a burning building resulting in injury or death.
Third party certificated providers should always be used in the process of implementing quality fire related systems in your building. This will ensure the correct systems are in place to reduce these fault related and accidental activations. With the reduction of these activations complacency for these will be lowered also, prompting a better response and call to action from people within the building.
The ongoing maintenance of any fire system (detection & alarm/emergency lighting) is also extremely important. Security systems are regularly switched off when opening the premises and switched on again when leaving, alerting you to any errors or issue with this system on a day to day basis. Fire systems however are on all the time – and sometimes overlooked. By making sure that everything is in order there will be a much reduced risk of false activations and that they will work at the most critical times to protect life and property.
Fire Safety provisions such as portable fire extinguishers must also be installed, commissioned and maintained to ensure they will work in the event of fire.
Let’s not forget this is a major part of your responsibilities listed in UK fire legislation and the appointed responsible person to provide this has a duty of care to all residents and staff (where applicable) to make sure the building is safe from fire.
How can I ensure my fire systems and provisions are correct for my building?
It is always strongly recommended to use third party certified providers for works that relate to life safety. More specifically, providers that are certified in the areas of fire safety that you require, such as a fire risk assessment. BAFE, the independent registration body for third party certified fire protection companies, have multiple schemes in operation to provide evidence of a fire protection company’s competency.
The use of third party certified providers can help you display you have shown due diligence in your responsibilities for life safety.
Stephen Adams, BAFE Chief Executive stated “Housing Associations, Groups and Trusts must ensure they are adhering to the relevant parts that apply to them in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (and equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland). It is imperative in this instance that quality providers are used to ensure a safe building where untrained and potentially vulnerable people reside”.
Third Party Certification demonstrates a company’s competence to provide specific services. BAFE supplies end users with an easy method of finding these quality, third party certified companies to help you meet your fire safety responsibilities. Search free on the BAFE website to find quality providers near you www.bafe.org.uk