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Fire Alarm FAQ's


An AFA is a fire alarm system. They are common place in many different types of premises.

An AFA is designed to provide early warning to occupants of a potential fire situation. Frequent false alarms can undermine the effectiveness of a fire alarm system.

An unwanted fire signal is a false alarm generated from a fire alarm activation and then passed on to the Fire and Rescue Service to respond.

Last year, Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) attended more than 1700 calls generated by AFA systems. 98% of these were false alarms.

Unwanted Fire Signals divert vital emergency resources away from real emergencies and create an increased risk to the public, road users and firefighters through vehicles responding on blue lights

Sleeping risk premises, some heritage and local infrastructure premises will receive an emergency response if the alarm activates. For example: -

  • Domestic dwellings (with smoke alarms or an automatic fire alarm);
  • Sheltered housing;
  • Residential care and nursing homes;
  • Houses of multiple occupation;
  • Hotels and B&Bs (from 20:00 to 08:00)
  • Hospitals
  • Recognised Heritage buildings (with prior agreement from GFRS)
  • Local and National infrastructure sites
  • Schools (during periods of closure)

From the data analysis and subsequent information, we are able to identify that the likelihood of there actually being a fire that requires some form of intervention is very low. In fact, for the majority of AFA calls, no equipment or action is required by fire crews. In the event of a fire or any physical signs of a fire, dial 999 for an immediate emergency response.

Several other Fire and Rescue Services have taken this approach and many more across the country are reviewing their policy/procedures.

A change in our attendance to incidents does not normally constitute a consultation process. However, key stakeholders have been consulted on the development of these changes.

There will be a significant reduction in risk to both members of the public and operational firefighters through the reduced frequency of fire engines responding on blue lights.

The policy change only relates to premises where the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies. It will not affect the way we respond to alarms activating at premises where people sleep or where occupants are vulnerable.

Reducing the number of UwFS within certain types of premises will allow our Fire Safety Enforcement Team to focus on safety management of higher risk premises to support measures to reduce false alarms.

Our Fire Control Room operators are trained and have information screens to enable them to establish the type of premises the call relates to. If there is any doubt as to the premises type, a fire engine will be mobilised as a precaution.

We do not have a charging policy for false alarms, but there is the option to introduce this at any time in the future. We will consider suspending our attendance to premises that have a high incidence of false alarms.

If the premises is occupied and someone investigates the alarm activation, a 999 call will immediately trigger an emergency response. When premises are unoccupied, perhaps at night, the person responsible for the premises should have arrangements in place to investigate why the fire alarm has activated and call 999 if a fire is discovered.

If the fire alarm is connected to an Alarm Receiving Centre, ensure that keyholder and/or on-site security contact information is accurate. Consider linking the alarm system to CCTV. We will respond immediately if you have a coincidence alarm activating, i.e. an alarm which confirms a fire when more than one detector or 'break glass' point activates.

If the caller reports that the sprinkler system has activated, we will attend the premises to investigate.


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