05 September 2014

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service are considering charging private landlords for false alarm call-outs, after a report revealed that only 80 out of 2,700 automatic fire alarm call-outs were real in 2013/14.

The report cited two particularly problematic buildings, including De Montfort House, a block of flats in the city centre, which had its alarm sounded 54 times in a year, with two fire engines attending each time at a cost of £12,760. The next highest number of false alarms was recorded at Goscote House, in a suburb just outside the city – 26 false alarms, at a cost to the service of just under £5,000. 

In total Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service spend more than £24,000 on false alarms, between July 2013 and June 2014.

Initial plans put forward to a fire service scrutiny committee this week recommended that if a building had more than nine false alarms a year, the owners or landlords should be charged a fee.

According to a BBC report, if a fine was introduced, it could bring in a potential revenue of more than £12,700 from the De Montfort building alone and go a long way to recovering the Fire Service’s costs.

The FIA has a micro-website devoted to driving down the cost of false alarms and can provide help for building managers who have a ‘false alarm’ problem.

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The fire risk assessment will include, where relevant the need for a correctly designed, installed and maintained fire detection and alarm system that operates properly without false alarms.

While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

Original sources

Leicester Mercury

BBC News