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TWFRS - Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service

Over the last five years there were 13,214 false alarms from Automatic Fire Alarm (AFA) systems in non-residential properties attended by firefighters across Tyne and Wear.

False alarms cause disruption, with many premises having to be evacuated; they also impact on productivity and can result in lost sales for businesses.

A HM Government study in 2004 claimed the effect on the commercial sector alone cost in excess of 1 billion each year. This took into account, lost time, productivity and business disruption caused by false alarms.

Importantly, Firefighters who attend false alarms are not available to attend life threatening incidents, undertake critical training or work in the community to prevent fires from happening in the first place.

False alarms waste the organisations time, firefighters time and could cost lives.

Following a review, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) is changing the way it responds to some AFAs.

From 1 June 2015, TWFRS will no longer automatically respond to investigate AFA calls to non-residential premises between the hours of 08:00 and 18:00.

(1) A back up call is received via the 999 system reporting a fire or physical signs (such as a smell of burning);
(2) You have been granted an exemption by TWFRS.

This change in response does not apply to the following property types:

(A) All single private domestic dwellings, sheltered accommodation schemes and other residential premises (e.g. hostels, hotels and care homes);
(B) Hospitals;
(C) Universities, colleges and schools including pre-school and nurseries;
(D) Registered COMAH sites;
(E) Premises who have successfully applied to TWFRS for exemption (visit for further information).

Between 18:00 hours and 08:00 hours AFA calls to non-residential properties will continue to receive an emergency response.

Fire and Rescue Services do not have a statutory responsibility to respond to calls originating from an AFA system to investigate if there is a fire. TWFRS will always attend any premises that confirm there is a fire (or signs of a fire) in their building through the 999 system.

May I also take this opportunity to remind you of your responsibilities under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The responsible person must ensure any fire safety facility, equipment and devices in your premises are subject to a suitable system of maintenance and are maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.

You should now consider the changes mentioned above and update your premises Fire Risk Assessment and Evacuation Plan, and ensure this reflects the appropriate method of summoning the Fire and Rescue Service in the event of a fire emergency via the 999 system, and this is communicated to all staff employed or otherwise at your premises.

Further advice and guidance on the following areas can be found by visiting the website

(1) Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005;
(2) Advice on reducing False Alarms;
(3) Exemption criteria application process.

  22 Jul, 2015