Firefighters will no longer respond to all automatic alarms

Changes to the way County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service respond to Automatic Fire Alarms in non-residential premises have been confirmed.

From 2 October, the fire crews will stop attending automatic fire alarms call outs to commercial business and workplace premises during working hours – unless a fire has been confirmed.

They will, however, always respond to calls 24 hours a day if a confirmation call is received through 999/112 reporting a fire or signs of fire, such as a smell of burning.

The changes follow data that shows the Fire and Rescue Service responded to 1,943 automatic fire alarm calls in non-residential premises from 2020 to 2023, with 98.5 percent of these being false alarms.

Only four of these calls in this three-year period required the use of a portable extinguisher, hose reel or greater means to extinguish a fire.

The move will have a positive effect on the business community and will support frontline appliances being immediately available to respond to life risk incidents.

It also gives further capacity and opportunity for crews to carry out prevention and protection activities in the community to help prevent fires from happening in the first place.

The fire service will always respond to single private domestic dwellings and sheltered accommodation schemes; residential premises such as hostels, hotels, and care homes; registered Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) sites; prisons; known heritage sites; and premises that have successfully applied for an exemption.

They will also respond to educational premises such as universities, colleges, and schools on weekends, bank holidays and during school holiday periods.

Get further advice and guidance.

Firefighters will no longer respond to all automatic alarms

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