The true cost of false alarms

23 May 2016 by Catherine Nelms, Content Executive

Beeeeeeeeeeep.  Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.  Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Nee-nah, nee-nah, nee-nah!

An estimated £1 billion a year is wasted by false alarms.  Fire and Rescue Services racing flat out to the site of an alarm, only to find that it is not, in fact, an emergency at all.


people with umbrellas
"Can we go back inside yet?"

Everyone from the building standing outside in the cold, their office shoes letting in water from the puddles left by the inevitable British weather.  But whilst office bods are standing outside in the damp, waiting for the alarms to get switched off and wondering if there really is a fire, the business in question is losing out on productivity – imagine all the sales calls left unanswered nationally, all the delays in getting work done on time, all the contracts lost because of a significant delay.

False alarms are a big, big issue.

And not least because businesses are losing out – the Fire and Rescue Service needs all the resources and people they have got in order to attend real incidents.  Any delay in getting to an actual fire is going to be costly, and not just in terms of money and time lost.  Buildings destroyed.  Vital documents and data lost forever.  Lives, sadly lost.

False alarms are very, very costly.

Of course, we’ve always agreed that we need to work on reducing them.  We all need to play our part, and there is now a wealth of guidance on how to cut false alarms.

But now the FIA has successfully investigated why false alarms occur.  The results of the study are surprising.

We teamed up with Scottish Fire and Rescue, and BRE to produce research into the reasons why false alarms occur, of which some of the results were announced during the FIA’s Double Anniversary celebrations at Parliament (you can watch the video of our Chairman Martin Harvey, and researcher Raman Chagger discussing the project by clicking here).

The infographic below shows how if we worked on reducing false alarms by as little as 20%, we could save the UK an estimated £150 million a year.  

infographic about false fire alarms

And, of course, as you can see from above, the research project will be discussed in more detail at FIREX.  to register.

See you there!