40% Of All Fire Incidents Are False Alarms

Of the 529,000 incidents attended by Fire and Rescue Services in England last year, 40% (214,000) were false FIA incidentsalarms, according to new figures released by the Government.

The figures also show an upswing in ‘non-fire incidents’ attended by crews, largely attributed to a spike in attending medical emergencies.

Some of the key findings include:

  • The overall increase of 5 per cent in fires in 2015/16 may be in part driven by an 8 per cent increase in deliberate fires since 2014/15, which account for 45 per cent of all fires.


  • In 2015/16 there were 303 fire related fatalities and 7,661 casualties in fires. For every million people in England, there were 5.5 fire related fatalities in 2015/16. This fatality rate was 11.6 people for those 65 to 79 years old and 19.5 for those 80 years and over.


  • Smokers’ materials (such as cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco) were the source of ignition in 7 per cent of accidental dwelling fires and 9 per cent of dwelling fire non-fatal casualties in 2015/16. In contrast, smokers’ materials were the source of ignition in 36 per cent of fatalities in accidental dwelling fires in 2015/16, and was by far the largest ignition category involved in accidental dwelling fire-related fatalities.


  • where a smoke alarm was not present accounted for 28 per cent of all dwelling fires and 33 per cent (76) of all dwelling fire fatalities in 2015/16. This is in the context of 11 per cent of dwellings not having a working smoke alarm in 2015/16 (the latest year for which data are available).


  • Mains powered alarms continue to have a lower “failure rate” than battery
    powered alarms. Twenty-one per cent of mains powered smoke alarms and 38 per cent of battery powered smoke alarms failed to operate in dwelling fires in 2015/16 in England.

(Original Source: FIA)

Potential causes of false alarms:

False alarms can occur from something as trivial as smoke from burnt toast. Other top causes include steam, aerosol sprays, dust from building work and bugs nesting in detectors. Users are often responsible for causing false alarms too, via either accidental or malicious activation of call points.

Faults in the system, water leaks, poor alarm maintenance and even having the wrong type of fire alarm system in place from the start can also be ultimately responsible for unnecessary setting alarms off.

How can false alarms be prevented?

Regular maintenance of fire alarm systems is also essential in fixing faults and stopping a build-up of dust on detectors from triggering the alarm. Your fire risk assessment should cover how often your alarms must be checked over.

Does your business have too many false fire alarms? Contact us today on to discuss your fire system 0845 402 3045 or send us an email and one of our sales team will be in touch shortly.

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