Fire Risk Assessment

Businesses Urged to Update Fire Risk Assessments Ahead of London Fire Brigade Policy Change

From October the 1st 2024, the London Fire Brigade will no longer respond to daytime automatic fire alarms (AFAs) from most non-residential buildings including office buildings and industrial estates, following only one percent of these alarm activations actually resulting from a fire.
An AFA is a system that can detect a fire and alert occupants without the need for anyone to manually activate an alarm, and in 2022/23 37 per cent of all London Fire Brigade incidents attended were due to these automatic alarm activations – that was 47,000 calls - with 99% being false alarms.
These attendances have, of course, had a major impact on time available for fire prevention work, fire safety work and training by the LFB, and have resulted in thousands of unnecessary blue light journeys every year – putting firefighters and the public at risk.
The LFB will stop attending AFAs during the day, between 7am and 8.30pm, with the exception of certain buildings that have exemptions because of sleeping quarters, dangerous substances or substantial public significance.

Implications for businesses

This change will mean a re-think from all London businesses that have a remote connection to an alarm-receiving centre. Insurers are urging these businesses to re-assess their fire risk assessments and staff training before the new LFB policy begins in October.
Dougie Barnett, Director of Customer Risk Management at AXA Commercial has said,
“London Fire Brigade’s decision is in line with many other fire and rescue services across the UK and it’s crucial that London businesses are aware of the change. If there's a fire, employees need to know to dial 999 during the working day because there won’t be an automatic response by the fire brigade like in the past.
The change will impact all businesses that have a remote connection to an alarm-receiving centre. It means their fire risk assessments will need to be updated and staff will require additional training to make sure they respond in the appropriate way in case of fire.”
Dougie says there were several areas businesses should focus on to prepare for the change:
  • Updating fire risk assessments and staff training, with a particular emphasis on actions employees should take in the event of a fire alarm sounding during working hours. Where there is shift work, specific guidance should be provided for action required during response and non-response periods
  • Ensuring that staff understand the need to dial 999 in event of a fire to report the incident to the fire service. Individual employees should be given responsibility for the action required
  • Establishing an early identification system when the fire alarm is activated to determine if it is a false alarm or an actual fire that requires the premises to be evacuated and fire brigade called
  • Delivering training to the relevant staff so they understand messages displayed on the fire alarm panel to assist with early identification of which detector has been activated within the premises
  • Ensuring that the fire alarm system has been regularly maintained by a competent contractor to prevent false alarms. Where the alarm signalling is connected to the BT RedCare system, early action should be taken to find an alternative alarm-receiving supplier before this service is withdrawn in August 2025
“This will be a significant change for London businesses that will impact their fire risk assessments. It’s important they prepare now and put plans in place, so employees have the required training and knowledge before it comes into force.”

At Ascend Broking Group, we emphasise the importance of comprehensive insurance and risk management. Does your business have an up-to-date fire risk assessment? Are your business premises adequately insured? We can assist with all your property insurance needs. Contact us today on 01245 449060 or email info@ascendbroking.co.uk.

Other blogs which may be of interest:

Managing fire risks in the manufacturing industry
Reasons to consider private healthcare cover

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