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Dozens Die In Fires: Old Smoke Alarms Are Unreliable

Nearly half of fire deaths in buildings in 2010 happened in a premises without a working smoke alarm.

The deaths accounted for 157 of the 340 people killed in UK fires.

The figures were obtained through Freedom of Information requests from 54 out of 57 fire services.

It is law to have working smoke alarms fitted on each floor in business premises, this includes residential properties owned by landlords.

But a number of businesses do not have correct maintenance contracts for their smoke/fire alarms. This means they are not being regularly checked as smoke alarms get older they deteriorate and become less sensitive.

Once a smoke alarm is 10 years old it is only 70% effective compared to a brand new one!

In many cases where deaths occurred last year, even though there was a working fire alarm, escape routes had not been planned or exits were blocked. A fire risk assessment can help with this. It is law to have a fire risk assessment carried out on a business premises. Within the assessment the emergency exits will be drawn up and any amendments will be suggested.

Rob Davies, community safety officer for West Midlands fire and rescue service, said a smoke alarm gives early warning in event of a fire.

This is why it is so important to have one in good working order. It allows you and your staff time to evacuate the building. Without a working smoke alarm it may be too late!

“And what we have to remember is that nine times out of 10, it’s not the fire that kills you, it’s the smoke.”

This blog highlights the differences between new and old fire alarm systems.

Don’t take the risk

The government’s chief fire and rescue adviser, Sir Ken Knight, said easy additions to normal routines, such as a comprehensive maintenance contract for your smoke alarms, could help add vital extra seconds when it came to escaping a fire.

Are you worried that your smoke alarms are over 10 years old? Give us a call today on 0845 402 3045  to discuss a comprehensive maintenance contract for your fire protection systems. Alternatively email us at and one of your sales team will be in touch.

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