Resilience of fire service set to improve through new policy

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (WSFRS) is changing how it responds to automatic fire alarms in some low-risk premises.

From 1 December the fire service will only attend alarm actuation calls in high-risk buildings where people sleep, such as hospitals and hotels, unless a fire is confirmed by an individual at the scene.

The service will not attend automatic fire alarms in low-risk commercial premises, retail or public assembly premises – including theatres, schools, museums and pubs – until a fire is confirmed at the site.

This will bring the service in line with current national guidance, as well as legislation set out in The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. WSFRS has been working with businesses and education providers to ensure they are compliant with this legislation since its introduction. All schools are compliant with this legislation, which is monitored through regular inspections carried out by WSFRS’s Protection Team.

On average WSFRS attends around 23 false alarms a week and responding to these incidents increases the demand on the emergency response service, whilst reducing the overall effectiveness and resilience of the service.

The change will now give firefighters more time to carry out vital prevention and protection work with their local communities, as well as increasing the overall effectiveness and resilience of WSFRS resources by reducing demand.

Area Manager for Protection, Dave Bray said: “Our Fire Safety Team have been working closely with business owners, managers and responsible persons to ensure they are compliant with fire safety legislation, and we will continue to work with all West Sussex businesses to ensure they have suitable fire risk assessments in place to mitigate any fire risks.

“We have also launched our new Business Fire Safety Awareness Tool which helps business owners to understand their legal duties for fire safety in the workplace, and I would encourage all responsible persons to familiarise themselves with this.

“The change in our policy will be managed by our Joint Fire Control and the control operators may challenge calls to automatic fire alarms. Though when a fire is confirmed, they will always send the fire engine that will get to the incident in the shortest period of time.”