- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 21 Oct 2017
The causes of false fire alarms in buildings
- A fire-like phenomenon or environmental influence (such as smoke from a nearby bonfire).
- Accidental damage.
- Inappropriate human action (such as malicious manual call point (MCP) activation).
- Equipment false alarms, resulting from a fault in the system.
In the period 2011-2012 there were 584,500 alarms reported in Britain. 53.4% of these were not fires and therefore considered “False alarms”. This is a drain on the FRS authorities and causes business disruptions leading to a loss of productivity and reducing the confidence of the general public.
The causes of false fire alarms in buildings was written by R. Chagger, D. Smith and published by BRE Global in 2014. The briefing paper collates information about the causes of false alarms in buildings and identifies approaches to reduce their occurrence.
It was based on data from Kings College London and Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority. The data supplied provides a snapshot of the types of false alarms that are observed but is not a comprehensive account of what might be the most common causes in the UK.
Kings College London provided data from 699 false alarm incidents and following a thorough review of the data, 6 physical interventions were identified that would address all of the false alarms reported. Replacement of the existing detectors with intelligent multi-sensor detectors (that detect more than one fire phenomena) was the solution that could reduce false alarms the most (by 69%).
Discussions with the Unwanted Fire Signals Officer of Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire Authority and analysis of their false alarm trends revealed that the use of a technical and experienced individual dedicated to investigating false alarms and engaging directly with regular offenders is a very effective means for FRS’s to reduce false alarms.
However, reducing the number of false alarms from domestic premises remains a challenge despite the fact that the vast majority are reportedly related to cooking incidents. Educating homeowners on effective installation and use of detectors in and around kitchens is likely to lead to the greatest reduction in false alarms from the domestic environment.
The Incident Recording System, used by Fire Officers to report on all callouts attended, lacks sufficient detail to accurately classify false alarm causes. However educating building owners, responsible persons and the general public could contribute significantly to reducing false alarms as simple measures can often cause notable reductions.
In addition, the increased use of multi-sensor detectors may avert false alarms from common causes such as cooking fumes, steam and so on.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- BRE articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- Carbon monoxide detector.
- Fire detection and alarm system.
- Fire performance of external thermal insulation for walls of multistorey buildings, third edition (BR 135).
- Fire protection engineering.
- Heat alarm.
- Ionisation smoke alarm.
- Intruder alarm.
- Multi-sensor alarm.
- New requirements for fire detection and alarm network systems IP 12 13.
- Optical smoke alarm.
- Project SHOUT.
- Smoke alarm.
- The role of codes, standards and approvals in delivering fire safety.
- Understanding the factors affecting flashover of a fire in modern buildings.
Featured articles and news
A PQP describes the activities, standards, tools and processes necessary to achieve quality in a project's delivery.
How Lidl has been actively working to reinforce their brand through sustainability.
Association of British Insurers describe full-scale cladding tests as 'utterly inadequate'.
This article examines the changing policy commitments and evolving definitions of the zero carbon home.
Researchers believe they may have created a 'game-changing' new form of concrete using graphene.
Grouting refers to the injection of materials into a soil or rock formation to change its physical characteristics.
Part of Designing Buildings Wiki, BREEAM Wiki will advance knowledge sharing for the BRE family of sustainability tools.
From the decorative to the utilitarian, and from the photographed to the forgotten.
New BRE book considers the progression from project-based knowledge creation to whole-life urban knowledge management.
This CIOB article explores the concept of value in building design and construction.
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners' release new images of soon-to-open 3WTC tower in New York.
A document can be called a bond or a guarantee. Does the name matter and what is the difference between them?