Research impacts on fire industry

20 April 2018 by Martin Duggan, FIA General Manager

The Fire Industry Association has analysed the recommendations put forward by a research study into false alarm causes and produced a wide range of additional guidance for fire industry professionals over the last two years.

The research, called ‘Live investigations of false fire alarms’ was completed in December 2015, and was an investigation into the exact causes of false alarms.  The research was carried out by BRE in partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services to analyse the exact reasons behind a false alarm.  This research, sponsored by the FIA and other key industry stakeholders, lead to 35 recommendations for changes or further investigation.

Over the past two years, the FIA has worked tirelessly to resolve the issues presented in the research.  Recommendations focused on areas such as the capabilities of detectors, investigations into the age of smoke detectors and their sensitivity levels, and other areas such as connections to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC).  (The full original report can be read here – link).

As a result, the FIA has included some of the recommendations into the new fire detection and alarm qualifications, ensuring that fire alarm contractors understand the importance of, and how to detail, all of the false alarms experienced during each service.  

“The analysis of the recommendations and the subsequent effort exerted by our experts who sit not just on our FIA Councils, but on other key industry councils and working groups such as BSi standards committees, has been huge,” commented FIA General Manager, Martin Duggan.  

“Some of the recommendations have been instrumental to the industry and have taken careful planning and deliberation by a wide range of individuals with vast levels of industry knowledge and experience.”

Three new guidance documents have been produced, covering manual call points, multi sensor detectors and property protection, with a fourth ‘Signal inhibition guide’ due out shortly. An infographic on ‘user responsibilities’ has been published along with an update to the FIA FD&A infographic and a ‘Mythbuster’ aimed at Risk Assessors provides even more advice. 

The recommendations from the research were also used to guide the revision of BS 5839-1: 2017, which was updated last year and includes, for example, the change that manual call points should have covers to prevent accidental activation (e.g. from being hit with hospital trolleys as they are wheeled down corridors). 

Some of the recommendations have led to further research projects on multi-sensors and the life expectancy of old smoke detectors. “Funding research and creating partnerships between the industry and research bodies to base our guidance in scientific fact is a vital part of developing the industry as a whole,” commented Martin Duggan.  

“It means that our guidance documents are based on research carried out on behalf of the industry, which has been one of our primary aims for a long time.  The FIA has a target to spend 5% of its annual turnover on research to further enhance the knowledge within the fire industry, and we have been delighted with the results so far.

We will continue to partner with research bodies such as BRE and universities to deliver research to power Standards and best practice guides.”

Guidance on Manual Call Points – False Alarm Mitigation>>
See our other downloadable guidance documents in our resource library>>
Mythbuster>>

Read about recent FIA funded research>>