AXA Commercial advises businesses to take action after fire brigade ends automatic alarm response

21 June 2024

Posted in News story

  • AXA Commercial says businesses need to review their fire risk assessment plans after London Fire Brigade announced it would end daytime response to automatic alarms from October
  • The force answered 52,000 false calls generated by automatic fire alarms over a 12-month period to March 2024

AXA Commercial is advising London businesses to review their fire risk assessments and staff training after London Fire Brigade (LFB) announced it would no longer respond to daytime activations of automatic fire alarms in most non-residential buildings from October.

In the year to March 2024, LFB attended 52,000 false calls generated by automatic fire alarms. From October, automatic calls won’t be answered between 7am and 8.30pm in a bid to reduce the burden on the force’s resources.

London Fire Brigade’s decision is in line with many other fire and rescue services across the UK and it’s crucial that London businesses are aware of the change. If there's a fire, employees need to know to dial 999 during the working day because there won’t be an automatic response by the fire brigade like in the past.

The change will impact all businesses that have a remote connection to an alarm-receiving centre. It means their fire risk assessments will need to be updated and staff will require additional training to make sure they respond in the appropriate way in case of fire.

Dougie Barnett, Director of Customer Risk Management at AXA Commercial
Headshot of Dougie Barnett, Director of Risk Management, AXA UK

Dougie said there were several areas businesses should focus on to prepare for the change:

  • Updating fire risk assessments and staff training, with a particular emphasis on actions employees should take in the event of a fire alarm sounding during working hours. Where there is shift work, specific guidance should be provided for action required during response and non-response periods
  • Ensuring that staff understand the need to dial 999 in event of a fire to report the incident to the fire service. Individual employees should be given responsibility for the action required
  • Establishing an early identification system when the fire alarm is activated to determine if it is a false alarm or an actual fire that requires the premises to be evacuated and fire brigade called
  • Delivering training to the relevant staff so they understand messages displayed on the fire alarm panel to assist with early identification of which detector has been activated within the premises
  • Ensuring that the fire alarm system has been regularly maintained by a competent contractor to prevent false alarms. Where the alarm signalling is connected to the BT RedCare system, early action should be taken to find an alternative alarm-receiving supplier before this service is withdrawn in August 2025

This will be a significant change for London businesses that will impact their fire risk assessments. It’s important they prepare now and put plans in place so employees have the required training and knowledge before it comes into force.

Dougie Barnett

LFB will continue to respond to automatic alarms between the hours of 8.30pm and 7am. Full details can be found on the LFB website here. Further information about the closure of the BT Redcare alarm signalling system can be found here.