Deadline to ensure fire safety procedures looms in Scotland

Scottish Government Scotland

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The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has encouraged the business sector to ensure their fire safety procedures are adequate and in place before the change comes into effect from 1 July, 2023.

Under the new rules, when an alarm is activated factories, offices, shops, museums and leisure facilities, will have to investigate and confirm that there is a fire or sign of fire before Operations Control staff send any firefighters. 

Those with fire safety responsibility within a building, known as the dutyholder, are required to investigate the cause of the alarm and call 999 only once a fire has been confirmed. Only premises with sleeping accommodation, such as hospitals, care homes, hotels or domestic dwellings, are to expect the current level of emergency response.

False alarm

Fire crews are called to an average of 28,000 false alarms each year. Investigating each incident can involve nine firefighters and two fire appliances as part of the response. Combined, this means that 252,000 firefighters are needlessly being called to unwanted fire alarm signals each year.

The changes are being implemented following the outcome of a public consultation held in 2021, where SFRS sought the views of the people of Scotland on the options to reduce the number of false alarms to allow firefighters to do more for the communities of Scotland.

SFRS Director of Service Delivery, David Farries, said that these types of incidents account for almost one third of our activity across Scotland and they are often caused by cooking fumes, dust or a lack of maintenance.

“Responding to false alarms places a significant drain on front line services, and causes lengthy interruptions to workplace and business premises, whilst members of the public wait outside buildings for firefighters to confirm there is no fire,” he said.

“By changing our response to these types of alarms, we can potentially free up 64,000 hours every year giving firefighters more time for other activities, such as training and fire safety prevention work to support communities.

“More importantly, these measures will ensure that our crews are available to attend real life saving emergencies”.

The SFRS has business advice pages on its website with practical guidance and advice on actions that dutyholders can take now to prevent false alarms.

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