In January this year Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority approved a new risk-based approach to responding to Automatic Fire Alarms (AFA).

Two communications events were held at Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service’s headquarters in Bridle Road, Bootle, about a new policy for Automatic Fire Alarms set to be introduced in Merseyside.

An event on June 19 was staged for companies that receive automatic alarm calls from premises. These calls are forwarded directly to the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service control room.

On June 20, a communications event was also held for public and private organisations who are responsible for the majority of the premises Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service (MF&RS) get called out to. Those who could disseminate the information to a larger audience were invited to the communications event to help raise awareness about the policy.

Questions were asked and answered and views and opinions listened to at both events. Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service will evaluate the feedback and respond to those that attended the events with how MF&RS will progress.

Owners of large premises in Merseyside, such as hospitals and universities, as well as those who own major building stock, such as social landlords, were invited along with council chief executives and the chambers of commerce groups from the five districts in Merseyside.

MF&RS will continue to maintain a full emergency response to domestic premises where the responsibility for safety is with the residents.

When alarms activate at other premises, MF&RS will respond when it is confirmed as a fire or there is a reasonable belief there may be a fire.

The decision has been taken to reduce the 5,800 calls received annually to Automatic Fire Alarms (AFA) on Merseyside, 95% of which there is no fire and it is a false alarm.

These unwanted fire signals (false alarms) have increased by 13.7% over the past five years despite numerous strategies implemented by MF&RS to reduce the number of such incidents.

Unwanted fire signals account for 26.7% of all calls to the Service’s 26 community stations. At Liverpool City Community Fire Station 55% of responses are to unwanted fire signals.

There is no legal requirement for fire and rescue authorities to respond to calls originating from automatic fire systems. MF&RS will continue to engage and communicate in order to reduce the number of unwanted fire signals.

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 Photo above shows one of the communications event held by Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service ahead of the introduction of the new policy. Photo courtesy of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service.