False Alarm Management White Paper
False Alarm Management
White Paper
Part 1
Who is FireClass?
FireClass is a revolutionary new class
of commercial fire detection products,
and a world leading fire alarm system
manufacturer and supplier. FireClass
features the latest fire detection
technology packaged as an easy to
install, out-of-the-box, digital
open-protocol solution.
Comprising a comprehensive range
of fully approved, quality products,
designed and manufactured in Europe,
FireClass is designed to appeal to both
the end user and installer.
The FireClass range of fire detection
equipment comprises both analogue
addressable and conventional systems
with a full suite including fire alarm
control panels and repeaters, smoke,
heat, flame, carbon monoxide and multi
sensor detectors, fire alarm sounders
and manual break glass call points.
FireClass also manufactures a range of
fire suppression products including gas
extinguishing control panels and manual
release and abort call points.
Designed and engineered in Europe,
FireClass technology is part of Tyco
International, the world leader in fire
and security solutions. Tyco has been
specialising in fire detection control
equipment for the last 50 years. Our
team of expert engineers and designers
have developed fire detection solutions
for a wide range of environments from
simple conventional systems to complex
integrated systems for hazardous
industrial installations.
This expertise and heritage has been
responsible for innovative solutions
over the years, including the first carbon
monoxide fire detection technology
for commercial environments and
triple sensing technology. It is this
expertise which has now been applied
to FireClass technology bringing you –
a new class of fire detection solutions
designed to meet all your needs through
a single supplier.
Purpose of the white paper
FireClass wishes to emphasise the
importance of false alarm management
within the fire and security industry. This
is not just a focus on manufacturers,
but also installers and end users. By
reducing false alarms, ultimately fewer
lives are put at risk and more lives would
be saved each year. There is also a
cost benefit for all businesses involved
in the supply chain. This reduction
in costs can be refocused on product
innovations providing more security
and a safer work environment for all.
FireClass has a number of innovations
which can help manage and reduce the
risk of a false alarm, which this paper
will also highlight and provide further
detail on.
The white paper is split into two parts,
the first part was released on the 9 May
2013 and seeks to define the false alarm
landscape. The second part focuses on
the specific products and technologies
that FireClass can provide to aid in the
battle against false alarms.
What types of false alarms
It is generally accepted there are a
variety of false alarms which occur.
Malicious false alarms are exceptionally
frustrating for all parties involved.
Although less prevalent in larger
organisations, institutions such as
schools, hospitals and other public areas
such as train stations are still affected by
malicious false alarms.
Fire alarm systems and their equipment
are constantly being upgraded and
innovated to reduce both the frequency
and the damage these false alarms can
generate. Some systems now allow for
a visual confirmation of the fire before
the fire service is notified and sometimes
simply having protective screens, such
as the ones FireClass manufactures,
can reduce malicious false alarms
Depending on the design of your fire and
security system, there are a number of
ways to reduce malicious false alarms.
The white paper will delve into specific
technologies and products provided by
FireClass provide can significantly help.
Looking at the layout of your fire alarm
system can also help significantly.
Conventional manual call points can
be replaced with break glass call
points, which will lead to a small drop in
malicious false alarms. Hinged covers,
dummy and real security cameras
placed prominently near specific call
points, can all help reduce the amount of
malicious false alarms.
In certain fire alarm systems, Fire
Services have introduced a delay in
response and wait for audio or visual
confirmation to verify the fire alarm is
real. This method allows a Fire Safety
Officer to locate and inspect the area
in the first instance. An addressable
fire alarm system can help both the
Fire Safety Officer and Fire Services to
quickly locate potential fires and reduce
the damage caused.
There will always be an element of false
alarms raised that were backed by good
intent. Far from discouraging individuals
not to raise an alarm if they believe
there is one, the entire industry should
be focused on investing in as much
awareness and training as possible.
This will reduce false alarms but also
ensure that real fire alarms are raised
quickly and appropriately.
One other type of false alarm which
generally occurs comes down to
equipment, installation and servicing.
FireClass cannot emphasise enough
the importance of these three areas
combined, not only in relation to false
alarms but also for the very purpose
they were intended for.
Common causes of false alarm include:
• Poorly maintained systems or lack of
• Badly designed or poorly installed
• Insect infestation
• Build-up of dirt and dust in smoke
• Steam ingress into smoke detectors,
typically from en-suite bathrooms in
• Smoke from processes other than
fire, welding is an example
• Aerosols and atmospheric pressures
• Cooking processes such as flambéing
• Theatrical smoke, dry ice, candles
and incense
• Sudden heat ingress such as opening
industrial oven doors
• Water ingress into electronics
• Diesel emissions on loading bays
• Cutting, welding and ‘hot’ work
This white paper will focus on the issues
with which FireClass can actively help,
as one of the leading fire detection and
suppression companies in the world.
Fire Alarm Management
Introduction Who is FireClass?
Purpose of the white paper?
What types of false alarms
Are false alarms such a
significant issue?
Reducing False Alarms
Fire Safety & the Law
Responsible Person
Servicing as a method of
False Alarms
Are false alarms such a
significant issue?
The total number of fires attended in
2013-14 was 212,500, continuing the
generally downward trend of the last
10 years. There was though a 10%
increase on 2012-13, but this previous
year had been unusually low due to
wet weather conditions. The increase is
mainly due to a large increase (around
20%) in outdoor fires.
The number of false alarms fell by 3%
to 293,100 in 2013-14 from 301,400 in
According to the DCLG, Fire and
Rescue authorities attended a total of
505,600 fires or false alarms in Great
Britain in 2013-14. This is 2% higher
than in 2012-13, but less than half that
of ten years ago (table 1.1).
In addition, the Business Sprinkler
Alliance estimate the British economy
has lost £1 billion in GDP and 5,000
full-time jobs through preventable fires
in commercial warehouses over the last
five years.
When you consider the financial
implications to businesses and services
that are also affected by downtime
through false alarms, the costs suddenly
start spiralling incredibly. It has been
estimated in some circles that the real
cost in terms of service to the Fire
Authorities is calculated at £300 for
every half hour they are occupied.
Because of the Localism Act 2011,
local Fire Authorities can now charge
following persistent false alarms, and
facilities managers need to be aware
of this new cost resulting from poor
management of their fire alarm system.
The costs of production loss coupled
with potential fines will quickly dwarf the
cost of managing and maintaining a fire
detection system.
Cost is not the focal point of the
issue. The fire and security industry
is one of the most unique frameworks
within the world. Rather than a purely
competitive zeal for business, the
industry is dedicated to providing the
most comprehensive service towards
protecting lives and property that is
possible. False alarms result in Fire
& false
2003/04 1,027.9
Building Fires
Total Dwelings2
Outdoor Chimney
1 Figures in thousands and figures are rounded and the components do not necessarily sum to the independently
rounded totals.
2 Includes caravans, houseboats, mobile homes and other non-permanent structures used soley as a permanent
3 Primary and secondary fires. Exclude fires in derelict buildings (which are included in “Other Buildings” here, but
are shown separately as “Outdoor Fires” in Annex table 1c).
r=revised; p=provisional
Services not being able to attend genuine emergencies or fires, potentially placing
people at unnecessary risk.
There are significant risks for both the Fire Service and the general public in attending
a fire alarm. Due to the nature of the life or death situations they deal with, the Fire
Service often attend fire alarms under blue light condition, involving high speed driving
of a large fire engine which presents danger for other road users. For a false alarm
situation, these additional dangers are unacceptable.
False alarms can also breed complacency. If a workforce is constantly being evacuated
due to false alarms, when a real alarm actually occurs it can generate panic and lives are
put at risk due to not taking the situation as seriously as it should be.
There are many reasons alarms go off accidentally. The alarm may be poorly installed or it could be the incorrect system for its
purpose. The device could also be fitted at the wrong height or installed in the wrong place. Importantly, if there are issues with the
alarm at installation, then unless these are addressed the false alarms will continue to take place.
There are many sources of advice available to those responsible for fire alarm systems. The Fire Service plays an important role
but manufacturers and installers of fire safety equipment can also be a great source of information. This is where FireClass seeks
to provide our ethical obligation to help where we can. This training and advice can go a long way in helping to reduce false alarms.
Today’s fire detection and alarm systems offer a number of techniques that reduce the chance of the Fire and Rescue Services
being called to a false alarm.
Examples of these include:
• Using a pre-alarm setting on the detection system. This is where the system is set up to provide an early warning of a potential
problem, thus allowing action to be taken typically by a Fire Warden before a full alarm condition is reached.
• Another approach is to use a coincidence function. This is where two separate detection devices are required to be in alarm
before a full evacuation and the Fire and Rescue Service are called.
• Other options include the use of a time delay. The initial device in alarm alerts the Fire Warden who carries out an investigation.
If a genuine fire is found, a full evacuation can be raised by breaking a call point.
• A fail-safe is built into the system, allowing for a short time frame before the Fire Services are automatically contacted.
Clearly every building is different in both design and usage and these are just a few examples of the many techniques available to
minimise false alarms from automatic fire alarm systems
Fire Safety and the Law
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 changed the legal frame work for fire safety in England and Wales. This law
covers “general fire precautions” and other fire safety duties that are needed to protect “relevant persons” in case of fire in and
around most premises.
The Fire Safety order is a Fire Risk Assessment based approach where the Responsible Person for the premises must decide how
to address the risks identified, whilst meeting certain basic requirements.
For the fire detection and alarm system this often refers to;
BS5839-1: Fire detection and Fire Alarm Systems for Buildings; code of practice for system design, installation, commission and
maintenance, establishes the following are requirements:
Current Risk Assessment
Log Book that records the date and time of the weekly tests, any faults or false alarms. If any work is conducted on the system
this also needs to be recorded along with details of who carried out the work
BS 5839-1 G1 Design Certificate which specifies the fire plan, drawings detailing the category and level of protection and any
variations agreed with applicable parties
BS 5839-1 G2 Installation Certificate, including a set of ‘as fitted’ drawings
BS 5839-1 G3 Commissioning Certificate, equipment manuals with user instructions
Alternatively, a G5 Certificate in place of the G1, G2 & G3 that includes all the additional material listed above
BS 5839-1 G4 Acceptance Certificate that confirms the date of handover
BS 5839-1 G6 Inspection & Servicing Certificate(s) that record all tests and checks made at each service visit since original
installation – handover
BS 5839-1 G7 Modification Certificate identifying any work undertaken on the system since the date of handover
The prosecutions for failing to respect the law in relation to fire safety and the subsequent punishments and or prison terms being
handed out, are becoming significant and highlight the real life implications of failing to take every precaution possible in preventing
fires and saving lives.
FireClass has commissioned a Consultants Guide in respect of BS5839-1. The Code of Practice for Fire Detection and
Alarm Systems for Buildings is a detailed and comprehensive document which requires careful reading to fully understand the
requirements and latest approach to ensuring the safety of buildings and their occupants from the ever present threat of fire. Please
download a free copy here.
Fire Alarm Management
Fires and false alarms
Table 1.1: Fires1 by location and false alarms, Great Britain, 2000/01 - 2013/14p
Fire and Rescue Services are taking different measures to cut the costs associated with attending false alarm calls. Some are
reducing the number of fire engines sent while others have stopped mobilising altogether in response to automatic fire alarms.
There are ways in which industry can ensure that the Fire and Rescue Service are only called out to a genuine fire. The use of
today’s technology together with training, and a good system design, can help minimise the possibility of a false alarm.
Taken from DCLG Fire Statistics: Great
Britain April 2013 to March 2014
Reducing False Alarms
Responsible Person
The system is properly maintained and remains in good working order.
Faults are dealt with quickly and efficiently
Persons who have to take specific action when a fire alarm goes off have appropriate training
All false alarms are investigated and action taken to solve any problems
All actions are recorded in the systems log book
Many unwanted fire alarm signals are caused by building work being carried out in the vicinity of fire detectors. The Responsible
Person for your company should ensure that staff and visiting contractors are made aware that the building is fitted with an
automatic fire detection and fire alarm system.
Where possible, permanent notices should be displayed at the entrance to all areas in which detectors are sited. A suitable text is:
“This area is protected by automatic fire detectors. Before undertaking any work involving heat, flame, dust or sparks, clearance
must be obtained from (name of Responsible Person).”
The Responsible Person must also ensure that maintenance or other work is carried out on the system only by a competent
person. If the person nominated needs training, you can get further advice from:
• The company that installed or maintains the system
• Fire Industry Association www.fia.org
The appointed Responsible Person must ensure that the risk assessment of the premises is carried out and crucially regularly
updated at least once every year. The Responsible Person should also ensure that the fire alarm system is maintained by a
competent and trained servicing organisation. The UK Government fire risk assessment guides recommend that “Third party
certification schemes for fire protection products and related services are an effective means of providing the fullest possible
assurances, offering a level of quality reliability and safety that non-certified products may lack”.
All FireClass products are dually certified and we would recommend that any servicing work is carried out by a BAFE registered
company (British Approval Fire Equipment www.bafe.org.uk).
Part of the risk assessment must ensure that the correct type of detection is installed throughout the premises and it is applicable to
manage the risk from fire and from false alarm potential. Any BAFE registered fire alarm company will be happy to provide advice.
In the event a building has a changed purpose or in the event building work is carried out and the building is extended or even
downsized, all interested parties must be consulted. There is a likelihood the fire alarm system will need to be altered and it is
imperative that these changes are made.
The building work undertaken or the new purpose has potential massive implications on a system, determining whether an
addressable or conventional system is most appropriate, or whether any building work affects any of the existing fire detection
equipment and crucially whether all parts of the building would be covered by the fire detection equipment. The wiring of the
systems is likely to be affected, buildings with ducting may require different types of sensors to be applied and the type of detector
may no longer be appropriate. One of the areas often overlooked is the cause and effect programming as the risk from both fire
and false alarm may change.
Interested parties can include, but are not limited to;
• The Manufacturer of the fire alarm system
• The fire alarm Servicing Organisation
• Fire Prevention Officers,
• Insurance Organisations
• Facility Managers
• The Fire Services
• The Building Firm
• Mechanical Engineers
• Time delays
• Day/night modes
• Co-incidence detection and verification
Servicing as a method of reducing false alarms
The role of the Servicing Organisation and or Engineer is just as important as that of a Responsible Person. A suitable risk
assessment should determine the frequency with which the system needs to be serviced. Factors such as the size of the fire
alarm system, complexity level, the risk level covered by the fire alarm system, all influence the frequency for how often a fire
alarm system should be serviced. At the minimum this should be twice a year, rising up to 4 times. Regular servicing ensures
that the risk of a false alarm is reduced. At each service the Engineer will check and test all operations of the control elements of
the system. This includes not just the fire alarm control panel and the performance of the system but also the power supplies and
fire alarm sounders. Reputable service organisations also test 25%-50% of all the devices such as detectors which are checked
yearly. This level of detail in servicing reduces the risk of equipment being faulty which in turn reduces the level of false alarms.
The Engineer will also check the false alarm record to determine:
The rate of false alarms expressed as the number of false alarms per 100 detectors
Whether two or more false alarms have arisen from any single device
Whether any persistent cause of false alarm can be identified
The dirt build-up levels in all detectors, and will change any which are going out of operational parameters
If warranted, the Engineer and Service Organisation will carry out further in-depth investigations into persistent false alarms and
try to establish the technical or environmental causes. FireClass recommends always erring on the side of caution. In the event
of a real life emergency the possible ramifications of not doing so are disastrous. The industry has also witnessed some of the
highest fines issued against organisations and individuals neglecting their duties. Whilst FireClass seek to manage and reduce the
frequency of false alarms, failure to maintain and monitor systems properly can result in extremely costly cases.
Selected case studies taken from Building 4 Change (http://www.building4change.com/page.jsp?id=1111)
Co-Operative Group, 26 Apr 2010
The world’s largest consumer-owned business, the Co-Operative Group, was fined over £200,000 after pleading guilty in
Southampton Crown Court to serious fire safety breaches at their store in Southampton.
The prosecution by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority took into account six breaches of fire safety under the Regulatory Reform
(Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Co-Operative Group was fined £35,000 for each of the six offences and ordered to pay a total of
£210,000, plus costs in excess of £28,000 to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority.
Fire Alarm Management
Each system must have the appropriate ¬detectors for the environment they are installed in.
Further guidance on the type of detector for the environment can be found in the Fire Class Consultants Guide.
The Responsible Person nominated to supervise your fire detection and fire alarm system should have received appropriate
training. That person will have the skills, knowledge, or experience needed to make sure that:
The Responsible Person should ensure that the alarm is regularly tested and indeed the fire plan for evacuation procedures is
regularly undertaken. Weekly sounder tests are a common occurrence in most buildings and the responsible person should ensure
that those persons using the fire alarm system are properly trained. This stops needless false alarms and call-outs resulting from
procedures not being followed and for inadvertent false alarms being triggered by improper use of the fire alarm system.
One of the common reasons for a false alarm being triggered is systems becoming old and obsolete. Whilst most individuals would
regularly update their electronic equipment such as mobile phone or television over time, fire alarm systems can be significantly
overlooked. Crucially this has a bearing on management of false alarms. Technology advances at a rapid rate and indeed if it was
possible to provide every organisation and building with up to date technology in their fire alarm system, the issue of false alarms
would not be as prevalent as it is today. Modern fire equipment is also based on much more complex technology than equipment
which was considered new 10 years ago. The complex technology used in fire detection equipment can include the following in the
fire alarm system programming to reduce false alarms;
The first thing on the agenda for any Responsible Person is to ensure that a suitable fire alarm is installed and is being maintained
as per the British Standard. Research conducted by the Department for ¬Communities and Local Government found that of the
16,400 dwelling fires last year, 37% occurred in places that lacked an alarm. A further 25% occurred in places where a fire alarm
was present but non-operational.
Christopher Morris, 56, was fined £2,500 for each offence and £6,000 in costs for failing to maintain a fire alarm system at a care
home in Trafford, Manchester, to a recognised standard and failing to inform the owners of the home of the deficiencies in the
Morris is believed to be the first fire alarm engineer to be prosecuted as a Responsible Person under the Regulatory Reform (Fire
Safety) Order 2005. At the previous hearing the bench at Trafford Magistrates Court decided it did not have sufficient powers to
deal with the case and what they described as ‘culpable neglect’ by the defendant.
Lee Pemberton, 28 Oct 2011
A landlord and his property firm were ordered to pay more than £33,000 for breaching fire safety legislation.
Lee Pemberton, a director of PemCo Investments Ltd, pleaded guilty to seven offences relating to a property above a shop, in Lune
Street, Preston.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service Chiefs said Pemberton put residents at risk of death or serious injury if there had been a fire in
the house of multiple occupants. The offences included failing to provide appropriate fire detectors and alarms, a lack of a suitable
fire risk assessment and an unsuitable system of maintenance for the building.
Pemberton, who had already been prosecuted by the Fire Services for previous breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety)
Order 2005, was fined £1,000 for each offence at Preston Magistrates’ Court. He was also ordered to pay £500 costs.
False Alarm Management White Paper Part 1 issued by FireClass focuses on issues within the industry. The second part of this
paper focusses on areas which FireClass can specifically help with, in the form of training, and the products and technology that go
into FireClass to make it the market leader in terms of preventing false alarms.
False alarms represent the most significant drain on the Fire Services. For organisations, they cause operational and financial
implications which are a needless drain on their own resources. As can be seen, false alarms have been reducing for 10 years, not
least due to the legislation requiring the appointment of an appropriate person and their duties, but also the technology employed
in the fire detection equipment which has been advancing at a rapid rate. Organisations, by making a compar¬atively small
investment in a system with features built in to stop, or at least delay, an alarm activating, will instantly see the far greater benefits
when it comes to the safety of our communities.
FireClass Website
Building 4 Change Website
Communities and Local Government
PemCo was also fined £3,000 for each offence, totalling £21,000, and ordered to pay £5,520 costs.
Education Business Website
David Moseley and DM Care 10 Apr 2013
FireSafety website
A record fine has been handed to a care home owner who put residents at risk through fire safety breaches.
David Moseley and his firm DM Care were given a £35,000 fine after local Fire Services found several breaches of regulations
following a fire last year. The Ambassador Care Home in Lytham Road, South Shore, was found to have a Santa’s Grotto blocking
an exit route by emergency services when the blaze started in January 2012, Blackpool Gazette reports.
Furthermore, no approved fire protection systems and alarms were in place, therefore leaving residents’ lives at risk. While nobody
was hurt in the conflagration, 40 people in the care home had to be led to safety by fire-fighters during the incident.
In a court case held last month, DM Care was given a record fine for an incident such as this in Lancashire and the maximum that
could have been imposed.
FIA Website
Hampshire Fire Service website
IFSEC Global Website
Fire Alarm Management
A former retained firefighter who failed to maintain a fire alarm in a care home was fined £11,000, including costs, in what is thought
to be the first case of its kind.
Christopher Morris, 23 Dec 2010
Tyco Fire Protection Products
PO Box 61355
Block D, Floor 3
Office Park Building #56,
Dubai Internet City,
United Arab Emirates
Tyco Fire Protection Products
c/ Isaac Peral 3
Coslada (Madrid)
Tyco Fire Protection Products
Kopersteden 1
P.O. Box 198, 7500 AD
The Netherlands
Tel : +34 (0) 913 807 460
Tel : +31 (0) 534 284 444
Fax :+31 (0 )534 283 377
Tyco Fire Protection Products
Via Gabbiano 22
Zona Industriale S. Scolastica
64013 Corropoli (TE)
Tyco Fire Protection Products
1002, Wing, c‘/ 10th Floor
Godrej Coliseum
Sion, Mumbai - 400 022
Tel : +91 (0) 226 628 6628
Fax :+91 (0 )226 628 6650
Tel: +971 (0) 488 386 89
Fax: +971 (0) 488 386 74
Tyco Yangin Korunum Sistemleri
Anonim Sirketi
Ehibeyt Mahallesi, Aykon Plaza
1242, Cadde, Nox 36 Kat 2/10
06520 Balgat - Ankara
Tel: +90 (0) 312 473 7011
Fax: +971 (0) 312 473 7392
Tyco Fire Protection Products
Tyco Park
Grimshaw Lane
Newton Heath, Manchester
M40 2WL
United Kingdom
Tyco Fire Protection Products
Rua Robert Bosch, 568
Barra Funda
São Paulo / SP
Tel: +44 (0) 161 259 4000
Fax: +44 (0) 161 875 0491
Tel: +55 (0) 112 192 9100
Email: FireClassSalesLATAM@tycoint.com
Tyco Fire Protection Products
Unit 3, Thandanani Office Park
Halfway Gardens
South Africa
Tyco Fire Protection Products
59-61. Etele út
Tel: +36 (1) 481 138 3
Tel: +27 (0) 110 269 476
The images shown in this catalogue are merely indicative and FireClass reserves the
right to modify at any time the characteristics of the products here represented.
Some products are not available in all countries. Contact your local distributor for details.
Printed 2015 · TYCENFCWHITEPAPER (7/15)
For more information about
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