How to reduce false fire alarms

At Ace Fire Security, we install and maintain effective fire alarm systems. We install industry-leading fire detection systems, such as Honeywell Gent, market leaders in providing fire technology and systems. Ace is proud to be an accredited system integrator of Gent 24 products in the UK. Ace Fire Security has been recognised as being specialists in complex cases, and whilst we are specialists and continue to install quality fire detection systems, there are occasions when you need to eliminate false alarms.

What is considered a false fire alarm?

A false fire alarm is an occasion when people wrongly believe that something dangerous or unpleasant is happening, without any viable explanations as to why the detector has been activated. It may be that a smoke detector has activated for no apparent reason, or with good intent; when a member of staff breaks the glass or calls 999 as they believe there is a risk. This may cost your business for the disruption, but you must ensure your staff are safe, adhere to Health & Safety legislation and record any false alarms in the fire alarm log book. Record why it happened (if known) and its specific location. This is essential to demonstrate your compliance with fire safety law and to ensure the information is recorded.

If the false alarm has been maliciously activated, where someone wants to cause some trouble, Ace Fire & Security can upgrade your call points with a ‘break glass’ approved cover or guard or relocate the call points if required. Potentially, a wasted 999 call may incur charges.

Why does my fire alarm go off for no reason?

There are various reasons why an alarm is activated. To eliminate false alarms, consider the optimal sensor or combination of sensors for your building. There are many sensors on offer, depending on where they are located. Heat sensors are used if there is a risk of a fast-burning fire and these are commonly used in restaurants and kitchens, but are impervious to common causes of false alarms, as these sensors do not respond quickly to the early stages of common fires.

Usually in an office environment, smoke sensors are the preferred option, as they react to the slowest burning fires. A potential challenge with standard smoke sensors is that they do not always distinguish between fire smoke; and dust, steam, cigarette smoke and cooking fumes. It is worth knowing that Honeywell Gent S-Quad smoke detectors overcome some of these issues by the use of advanced sensing technology, with dual-angle optical sensors.

However, to reduce the potential for false alarms further, installing a multi-sensor detector is the most reliable solution, as the sensors are more accurate in identifying real fires and environmental factors such as steam or dust, and are ready to react quickly to real fires.

If the false alarm is the result of a fault and the control panel cannot be reset, summon a competent fire alarm engineer as soon as possible. Ensure you consider temporary measures whilst the system is faulty; these could include staff patrolling risk areas at regular intervals, and the use of public address system or loud hailer in the event of an emergency.

If you are unsure of which fire detection system and sensors to install, Ace Fire Security can advise what are the optimal products for your business. We have decades of experience in the supply of commercial fire systems and can provide impartial and reliable advice. Call us today, on freephone 0800 294 6550 to discuss a professional fire risk assessment of your premises. It is imperative that you choose the correct products, as lives may be at risk!

Dan Bradding
Written by Dan Bradding

Dan is a systems integration specialist and Director at Ace Fire and Security.