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False fire alarms cost the UK economy nearly £7 million annually, report indicates


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Impact of false fire alarms on UK SMEs

Research reveals that avoidable fire alarms, specifically false ones, are costing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK a staggering £696 million annually.

This figure emerged from a comprehensive study conducted by Red Fox, a respected and independent entity specialising in technology and B2B research.

The study was commissioned by Hochiki Europe to gain insights into the financial burden false fire alarms are imposing on UK businesses.

More than 300 SMEs were asked to estimate the cost an unnecessary evacuation due to a false fire alarm had on their organisation and if it had a significant impact.

False fire alarms causing disruptions and financial losses

Over nine in ten false alarms triggered total evacuations, and one in every four caused substantial disruption to businesses.

On average, nearly 30% of these unplanned incidents cost £1,000 or more due to the resultant disruption.

This indicates that false alarms are having a substantial economic impact nationwide.

A diverse range of sectors were surveyed, including hospitality, leisure and travel, retail and e-commerce, finance and insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, public sector, not-for-profit, and education.

When considering the immediate financial impact, owners and senior managers revealed these unplanned alarms had extensive consequences in lost productivity.

Hidden impacts of false fire alarms on productivity

Disruptions included interrupted meetings (33%), employees taking time to settle back into work (32%), and time taken to restart production processes in manufacturing and IT sectors (over 25%).

In the food and drink sector, 10% highlighted the need to restart preparation processes and highlighted the resulting food wastage.

64% of respondents believed that most alarms experienced in the past year were false alarms, supported by the cited causes for these alarms, with 20% caused by dust and smoke from building works and maintenance, and 18% caused by equipment failures.

Alarm fatigue: a consequence of frequent false alarms

Alarmingly, the research found that 56% of business owners or managers stated that excessive false alarms were leading to complacency among staff, resulting in ‘alarm fatigue’.

These false alarms can stem from several factors such as lack of maintenance, burning toast or building renovations causing excess dust.

However, with multi-sensor technology continuously evolving, there is potential to mitigate the risk of false alarms and enhance fire safety.

IFSJ Comment

This research highlights an issue of major concern to businesses across the UK. False alarms are more than just a nuisance; they carry a high cost both financially and in terms of employee safety.

This is a clear call to action for businesses to tackle this problem head-on, employing best practices in fire safety and technology to reduce these costly false alarms.”

About Hochiki Europe

Hochiki Europe is an industry-leading manufacturer of commercial and industrial fire detection and emergency lighting solutions. Their innovative approach and high-quality products have been trusted by businesses globally for over 100 years. The company is committed to the continuous development of products and systems that enhance fire safety, ultimately reducing the incidence of false alarms and ensuring the safety of staff, the public, and businesses.

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