Responding to fire alarms.

Did you know that we responded to over 39,000 false alerts from fire alarms in 2017?


What is an automatic fire alarm?

Automatic fire detection and fire alarm systems are fire alarms that send an automatic alert if they detect what they 'think' might be a fire. There's lots of information about the different systems on the fire alarms for property managers page. These systems provide early warning, so in the event of a fire, people can escape to safety.

Do we respond to every alarm?

Yes – unless you confirm to us it’s a false alarm! Though many of alerts are as a result of real fires, there were substantial number of false alarms too.

38,000 false alarms in 2017... that's 104 a day!

We attended around 38,000 false alarms last year. That's really bad news, because:

  1. Our firefighters should be out attending real emergencies and saving lives.
  2. False alarms are dangerous – people become complacent and don't react to the alarm when there's a real fire.
  3. People are put at unnecessary risk from avoidable blue light journeys.

There are tips and suggestions to help people responsible for fire alarm systems maintain them properly here – good fire safety practice is the best way to reduce false alarms. 

Taking action on false alarms

Reducing false automatic fire alarms

Under the existing rules, we are allowed to make a charge to recover costs of attending persistent false alarm calls from automatic fire alarm systems and fire detection systems. Though we don't do this at the moment, it's something we are exploring.

A charge may soon apply when:

  1. We attend 8 false alarms at the same site within 12 months.
  2. At every following false alarm call-out thereafter.

Did you know?

We are not legally required to attend potential incidents just because a fire alarm system has sent an alert. In fact, many fire brigades won't attend unless a call is made confirming that there really is an emergency.

Though London Fire Brigade does attend all alerts, when we take 999 calls about a fire alarm going off, control officers often ask if they can confirm the reason for the alarm to find out whether or not there is a real emergency.

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