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ASA Technology cuts risk of false fire alarms

17 January 2014

False alarm callouts are costing London £37m annually and the economy about £1billion in lost productivity. The cost, risk to lives and drain on firefighting resources has led the London Fire Brigade to announce a stringent, new law which came into effect on 1 January 2014.

Organisations will now be fined £290 plus VAT if they have more than ten false alarm call outs in a year.  Hospitals are among the most prolific offenders; large businesses, airports and student accommodation will also be fined under the new rule. The fine does not apply to care homes or domestic properties.

40,000 call outs, one third of all incidents for fire crews in London are due to false alarms from automatic systems. James Cleverly, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, who made the decision for the charge, stated: “The vast bulk of automatic fire alarm calls turn out not to be fires, these are often caused by poor management or maintenance of alarm systems.”

Tony O’Brien head of sales for Siemens Building Technologies Solution and Service Portfolio responds; “Fire alarm and detection systems should not cause false alarms; if an organisation suffers from excessive false alarms, it is down to poor technology or mismanagement.  A false alarm is referred to as an ‘unwanted fire signal’ as soon as the fire service is summoned.  There is a need to properly educate building and facilities managers about the benefits of the right technology to minimise unwanted alarms and how to properly maintain their fire alarm systems.”

There are a number of reasons for a false alarm. These range from steam, smoking materials, poor housekeeping, humidity and temperature change through to poor fire detection system testing and maintenance procedures.  

Choosing and applying the correct fire detectors for the location and application reduces the chances of a false alarm from the detector itself.  It is the responsibility of fire alarm companies to not only install and maintain the technology but also to advise on best use and minimisation of potential unwanted fire signals. 

Tony O’Brien explains: ““The Siemens unique Sinteso fire alarm system features advance intelligence which delivers the highest level of protection against all types of fire hazards.  It’s built-in intelligence means it can offer fast identification and early warning of fire, as well as eliminate potential false alarms due to environmental influences such as welding or steam, etc.  The Sinteso system is constantly alert, evaluating each situation minute by minute and taking decisions on complex criteria to ensure a safe environment.”

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