Reduction of unwanted fire signals (UwFS) policy

Aims and objectives

The aims and objectives of this policy are to:

  • Reduce the number of UwFS by requiring the design, installation, commissioning and testing and maintenance of fire alarm systems to be carried out by competent persons in accordance with the appropriate standards.
  • Reduce the impact on businesses from UwFS.
  • Improve liaison with the Business Fire Safety (BFS) Department to ensure that at audit the ‘Responsible Person’ as defined under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO) is made aware of their duty to take overall responsibility for the performance of the fire alarm system.
  • Improve the fire safety management of premises by promoting the appropriate management of automatic fire alarms (AFAs), i.e. call delay, on- site call filtering.
  • Reduce UwFS to increase occupier’s confidence in fire alarm systems and to avoid complacency.
  • Monitor the performance of fire alarm systems.
  • Liaise with Fire Alarm Monitoring Organisations (FAMOs) to improve false alarm filtering.
  • Promote robust 999 call challenging by Fire Control operators.
  • Ensure the most appropriate FRS response in terms of the Pre Determined Attendance (PDA) and follow up by the UwFS Team and/or BFS.
  • Reduce the potential dangers to firefighters and members of the public when responding under emergency conditions.

Role of the UwFS Team

  • Performance monitoring and evaluation of premises
  • Liaison with BFS if poor performance and other information gathered in relation to a premises indicates that a Fire Safety Audit (FSA) may be warranted.
  • Liaison with Fire Control as appropriate.
  • Liaison with operational crews as appropriate.
  • Liaise with premises that have generated UwFS and offer appropriate advice to reduce or eliminate these occurrences. This may include:
    • Duties of the responsible person under the RRO
    • Changes to arrangements and procedures in the premises
    • Changes to the design or layout of the fire alarm system
    • Investigation of an alarm actuation before calling the FRS
    • Out of hours procedures, specifically arrangements for the availability of key holders

Role of Business Fire Safety (BFS)

The Business Fire Safety team is responsible for...

  • Supporting the reduction of UwFS by increasing the emphasis put on the duties of the Responsible Person including responsibility for
    • the premises emergency action plan (specifically on site call filtering measures)
    • testing, maintenance and management of fire alarm systems during the audit process
    • discuss out of hours arrangements for monitored premises, in particular the availability of a key holder to attend within 20 minutes of the time of call.
  • Carrying out enforcement action under the Regulatory Reform Order as appropriate.
  • Continuing to promote awareness of UwFS through the Building Regulations consultation process for new and altered buildings.
  • Promoting the awareness of issues surrounding UwFS during Business Education Seminars.

Role of Operational Crews

  • Investigate the causes of UwFS and if appropriate give advice to the Responsible Person as to how to avoid recurrent calls (for example closing of doors whilst cooking, relocation of appliances causing false actuations). N.B. under no circumstances should crews give advice on making alterations to the design or layout of the fire alarm system.
  • Reiterate the requirements for the Responsible Person to test, maintain and manage the fire alarm system.
  • Complete accurately and as comprehensively as possible the UwFS Investigation Form (FB357) to include the affected detector head’s I.D. number or the exact location of the head if it is not a fully addressable system. Return pink copy to the UwFS team immediately on return to station or as soon as reasonably practicable.
  • Under no circumstances must crews reset fire alarm panels, remove detector heads or replace break glass call points.
  • During out of hours or at unoccupied premises, the Incident Commander should determine the appropriate course of action based on a Dynamic Risk Assessment. Wherever possible, if the decision is made to leave the premises without gaining entry, the FB357 should be completed and either posted through the door or left in a prominent position for the attending key holders attention.
  • Continue to support the UwFS team by reporting any matters arising, e.g. issues with key holder attendance for out of hours access, other evidence of the Responsible Person not carrying out their duties effectively.

Role of Fire Control

The Fire Control teams will:

  • Mobilise appliances to calls in accordance with this policy. It is essential that the control operator/supervisor will at all times retain the authority to mobilise at their own discretion based on information available to them on receipt of a call.
  • Adopt a robust ‘call challenge’ procedure.
  • Liaise with the UwFS team as appropriate.

Premises Performance Monitoring Levels

The following recommendations are applicable in accordance with BS 5839-1: 2002 + A2: 2008 for an acceptable rate of false alarms.

In systems that incorporate more than 40 automatic fire detectors, the user should instigate an in-depth investigation by suitable specialists if, in any rolling period of 12 months, either:

  1. the average rate of false alarms exceeds one false alarm per 20 detectors per annum; or
  2. three or more false alarms are initiated by any single manual call point or automatic fire detector (or detector location).

In systems that incorporate fewer than 40 automatic fire detectors, an in-depth investigation should be instigated by the user if, in any rolling 12 month period, three or more false alarms occur.

Should a premises exceed the limitations on an acceptable level of false alarms then a review of this premises should be undertaken by the UwFS team.

If following this review it is apparent that the Responsible Person has not taken the appropriate actions in order to address UwFS from the premises, or that there are fundamental issues with the standard of general fire precautions indicative of poor fire safety management, then this premises should be referred to the BFS department for audit.

Reporting lines

The Fire Safety Technical Officer (UwFS) will report directly to the Station Manager BFS, who has responsibility for monitoring our performance against UwFS targets.

The Station Manager BFS will report progress monthly to the Head of Prevention at the Monthly Prevention Manager’s meeting.

Performance monitoring

The Service has set three Local Indicators for UwFS. These have taken the actual performance achieved in 2011/12 as the baseline. Performance will be measured against these targets and are approximated to a further 5% reduction in each category, for each of the next three years.

  2011/12 Actual 2012/13 Target 2013/14 Target 2014/15 Target
Non domestic LI AFA 1 852 810 770 730
Domestic LI AFA 2 283 270 255 240
Total UwFS LI AFA 3 1135 1080 1025 970

Fire and Rescue Service Attendance Levels

SFRS has set the following AFA mobilising policy:

1 pumping appliance mobilised to any AFA plus;

A second pumping appliance is mobilised to life risk premises between 2200 and 0800 hours.

Some special risks generate a specific predetermined attendance which is offered by the Command & Control system; these are not impacted by this policy.

Further Information

Business Fire Safety

Telephone: 01743 260 200
Email: businessfiresafety@shropshirefire.gov.uk