How we respond to automatic fire alarms

We will only routinely attend alarm actuation calls in certain building types. This is when they are deemed to be at higher risk.

The following types of premises are deemed to be low risk.

  • Retail
  • Offices
  • Industrial premises
  • Education
  • Entertainment
  • Food and drink
  • Sporting venues
  • Religious buildings.

They are considered to be low risk for the following reasons.

  • These buildings have resources to enable people in the property to act on their own procedures and fire risk assessment. They can also conduct a safe investigation of the building and confirm a false alarm.
  • These are premises that do not contain any ’sleeping risk’ (meaning no one is sleeping there).

Unless we have carried out a risk assessment that indicates other arrangements are necessary, we will not routinely attend automatic alarms at low-risk premises unless the building's occupants can confirm that there are signs of a fire. This applies between the hours of 8am to 6pm from Monday to Friday.

    We may decide to attend if we gain further information about the property, for example, if it is a library, a listed or historic building.

    We will challenge automatic alarm calls. We also ask that when alarm monitoring companies pass a call to us, designated key holders are alerted at the same time and are requested to attend the site within 20 minutes.

    Please help us reduce unwanted alarms

    We want to help you. If you need help or advice about fire alarm systems call our fire safety helpdesk: 01392 872567 (office hours Monday to Friday) or email: firesafetyhelpdesk@dsfire.gov.uk.

    Further information about false and unwanted fire alarms

    The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) Guide for the Reduction of False Alarms and Unwanted Fire Signals (PDF),

    If your alarm is remotely monitored please read the Best Practice Guide for summoning a fire response via Alarm Monitoring Organisations on the NFCC website (PDF).

    Our automatic fire alarm attendance policy

    If you are writing or reviewing your on-site practices in relation to fire, you may need to refer to the fire service attendance policy.

    • Confirmed false alarm: no fire appliance mobilised. 
    • Confirmed fire: fire service attendance appropriate to the occupancy risk.
    • Doubts as to the cause of alarm activating:
      • standard alarm actuation attendance - one appliance between the hours of 6pm to 8am.
      • risk assessed attendance.
      • confirmed domestic/residential premises - standard alarm actuation attendance - one appliance.