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Automatic Fire Alarm Consultation Launched– Make Your Voice Heard

Royal Berkshire Fire Authority is asking people to consider how their fire and rescue service responds to Automatic Fire Alarms in lower risk, occupied buildings as part of a public consultation. The consultation will run from Monday, 17 January to Monday, 28 March 2022.

The consultation, which will run for 10 weeks, is asking for people’s views on how their fire and rescue service responds to Automatic Fire Alarms in lower-risk, occupied buildings such as shops, office blocks and factories. This is because 99% of the automatic fire alarm calls are false alarms. These calls place a significant burden on the Fire and Rescue Service, with on average, 2,200 Automatic Fire Alarm calls attended every year that are false alarms.

There will be no change to the way we respond to higher risk buildings such as care homes, hotels, student accommodation and high-rise buildings, where we will immediately send a response when notified of an Automatic Fire Alarm.

An Automatic Fire Alarm is an alarm that, when it sounds, will automatically alert the occupants of the building. Building occupiers should consider how to reduce the number of Automatic Fire Alarms and have a legal responsibility in line with their fire safety measures on site to respond in a prompt manner when an automatic fire alarm goes.

The Fire Authority is encouraging as many people as possible to have their say on the two options detailed within the Automatic Fire Alarm Consultation Document.

Chairman of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, Councillor Colin Dudley, said: “We are asking you to consider the two options as part of this public consultation, one which reflects a change to our current policy to help reduce the burden of false alarms and one in which our current policy remains the same. Due to a high number of the automatic fire alarm calls we attend each year being false alarms, we are asking the public to consider if we should change the way we respond to these calls, as outlined in the options, so that we can free up more time for other priority work. No decisions have been made and your feedback will be vital for the decision-making process.”

Councillor Dexter Smith, Community Risk Management Plan Lead, said: “If we were to change the way we respond to automatic fire alarms, we could save up to 1,300 hours of firefighter time each year, which could be used for other priority work. This could include delivering valuable fire safety advice in the community, carrying out vital training, visiting high-risk properties to help prepare firefighters should they need to respond to an incident there and ensuring more fire engines would be available for  emergency incidents.”

To take part in the consultation, residents can:

Follow more about the consultation on social media, using #AFAConsultation.

After the consultation has closed, all feedback received will be conscientiously considered by the Fire Authority at a meeting on 28 April 2022. The chosen option will be implemented in summer 2022.