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Lets Stop All AFA Attendances?


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On the back of another thread; should the uk fire and rescue services attend any/all automatic fire alarm incidents ?

It's a big question and the answer isnt as obvious as first sight.

The vast majority of fire detection and alarm systems are aimed at life safety - that is warning people there is a fire and giving them time to reach a place of safety without fire service intervention.

Occupiers must make their own plans for wardens to help and check the building is clear, provide sufficient exits, signs  lighting and extinguishers - plus special measures where necessary for disabled or those who will need assistance

We all know 99% of calls result in a good intent  false alarm or small fire that requires one hose reel or less to deal with.

Theres a huge risk to crews tear-arsing around to these shouts and risks to the local community as their fire cover is reduced during these times

Obviously the FRS must attend a follow up call, but should a PDA be despatched initially?

The only exception would be where fire alarms designed to protect property were involved and only out of hours. These shouts would attract a charge every time

Many fire authorities have adopted call challenge,  reduced PDAs and other deterrents, but most still attend residential care, hospitals and domestic premises. My proposal would be no automatic PDA to any of them, except upon request


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As my retired crew commander always loved to say “Tescos was an afa”

Tesco fire

Im also RDS at a station where half of the 300+ calls we do a year are afas at the local prison. Do i like getting up at 2am to jump on a truck for a confirmed afa? Not really as i’d rather be going to something of note. But better to turn a crew back if not needed than need one thats not on the way yet. 

 i dont want to start shouting that we should aggresively call challenge and potentially drive down call numbers. Because we all know where that could lead

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Messy were you getting many AFA calls in the 80s? I know around the late nineties they started to increase year on year.

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Similar position to Carl, with plenty of call challenge/ dynamic mobilising by control if required, Maybe something like having car recovery , a blue plaque scheme perhaps...lol.

If a company wants to rely on the FS for  a service thats not a legal obligation then, maybe they should pay and the fire service could have some income generation or cost recovery. 

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I was vehemently opposed to these call reduction techniques when I was operational. I also shared the view that 'we only come back from false alarms, but never turn out to them". But is that realistic?

Since I have dabbled in the murky world of fire safety, I have understood more from a strategic position what a 'category L fire detection system' is installed to achieve. That is, get people to leave the risk area and proceed to a safe area. That is it, job done. https://www.thesafetycentre.co.uk/blog/bs5839-fire-alarm-system-classifications/

Its no good pointing at calls where they originated a fire call. That is what they are supposed to do. Its the calling 999  part that gets my back up. I have missed decent jobs (including rescues) when buggering about at AFAs, and a friend died when his pump overturn en route to a hospital unwanted fire signal. 

With the introduction of the Fire Safety Order in 2006, business owners had more responsibilities almost overnight in terms of risk assessments and making their premises safe without the fire service doing it all for them by way of a fire certificate. The 'responsible person' (The RP)became a active part of determining fire safety management, rather than a passive 'passenger' wit the fire service doing everything.

I feel there should be a similar approach to managing fire alarm activations. When the alarm activates to evacuate mode, the RP should have a system to ensure the building is evacuated and the fire located without the need for fire service intervention. The average Hospital is a regular customer for most fire stations. But there are often scores of nursing staff, admin, engineers, porters and others who already know what the cause of the activation is. So why not let them deal with every activation without robbing the surrounding area of fire cover. 

A hospital on my old patch used to have nearly 300 calls per year. OK, 30 were fires - but they could have self screened 270 waste of time calls 

I welcome GMFRS measured approach which is perhaps more politically acceptable than my proposal, but I am not sure about West Mids sending a fire safety officer in a Range Rover approach.


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5 hours ago, Messyshaw said:

but I am not sure about West Mids sending a fire safety officer in a Range Rover approach.

One of these BSVs was based at my first station, it predominantly turned out to hospitals as they seem to be the frequent fliers when it came to afas. As far as i know it never turned out to an afa that turned into a raging inferno as soon as it booked in attendance

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