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Fire Safety, Fidget Spinners and False Alarms

Had enough of the latest fidget spinner craze yet? It will come. They are everywhere, much like fire safety - though our industry would be deemed far more important than the latest toy fad and rightly so. Although this latest ‘toy fad’ was born out of a serious need for learning support aids and initially deemed incredibly useful, on the flip side something as crucial as life safety can become an annoying, expensive inconvenience when a business property has poor alarm management in place and suffers from false alarms. The whole purpose of life safety systems comes in to jeopardy as soon as the reason behind the alarm comes in to question. Alarms should go off in the required event that a warning is needed. Fidget Spinners should be in place to aid and assist concentration.

This is real life and children like to play, even parents – I have a batman version! In real life ‘false alarms’ can occur, so let’s look deeper to help prevent and manage them.  Firstly, the use of the term 'False Alarm' is often misused when talking about automatic fire detection and alarm systems. A smoke or heat sensor will activate when smoke or excess heat is present. Vehicle exhaust smoke, bonfire smoke or burnt toast are all example of false or unwanted alarms. The sensor is only doing its job and whilst the activation may not be down to a real fire, the sensor has activated for the right reasons. In this case it’s better to refer to it as an ‘unwanted alarm’.

People can be too quick to blame false alarms on faulty equipment. However, modern electronic fire detection and alarm systems are no less reliable these days than any other item of electronic equipment. Fire sensors and control panels are produced not only in their millions by global manufacturing businesses to exacting quality requirements. They are also subject to an expensive approvals process prior to being released to market, designed to ensure they meet the appropriate European safety standards.

Drax can assist your business and work with the ‘responsible person’ to ensure several factors responsible for ‘unwanted alarms’ are quantified and reported, thus providing a clear indication of what needs to be done to reduce the occurrence of 'unwanted alarms'. We have evidence from large institutions that use the Drax Technology AMX software we supply, that demonstrates how effectively ‘unwanted alarms’ can be reduced. Achieved after collecting data from the fire detection and alarm systems, analysing that data and then instigating measures to ensure 'unwanted alarms' do not re-occur. 

'Unwanted alarms' need to be prevented to keep you compliant, save you money and more importantly keep everyone that enters your premises safe at all times. Do give us a call so that we can discuss which style of fidget spinner you have, I mean, which fire safety system you have in place and what measures we can put in to ensure your fire safety never becomes a frustration and does exactly what it is supposed to - Saves Lives.

We look forward to your call 0345 4592300 or email info@draxservices.co.uk with the subject line : Help me prevent false alarms 
 
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Social Media Increases Fire Threat

Recent examples of which can be seen at a Red Hot Chilli Pipers Gig in South Ayrshire. A fire alarm went off during a packed festive fanfare with an evacuation procedure that took an estimated 15 minutes to complete.

Revellers described the process as “organised chaos”; alarms could not be heard over the band playing and once the crowds did start to vacate they gathered on the street outside resulting in doorway blockages which slowed others attempting to get out.

Potentially a disastrous scenario, the incident is now being investigated by the local council.



Thankfully this was a false alarm and no one was hurt but serves to exemplify that large gatherings of people equal severe health and safety threats, even when ‘properly’ co-ordinated.

What if an event is not ‘properly’ organised or the scale and volume of people has not been considered?

This is where Social Media plays a part. Only a handful of weeks ago, we saw the full scale of catastrophe which can take place within a building, further afield in Oakland. A total of 36 people tragically lost their lives when a warehouse being used as a large-scale dwelling caught fire. National Fire Protection Association President Jim Pauley said in a statement at the time.

"In Oakland, the changing occupancy of that building may have only been known to those who lived or worked there, not to the fire service or other officials," he said. "This is likely a scenario happening in other places around the country.

The ability to attract large numbers of people to an unknown venue is easy through new ways of social media. Couple that with the rate of speed, things can go from bad to worse when there are blocked or not enough exits and lots of combustibles."

Landlords, business owners, building managers, facilities and estates directors are all accountable when it comes to life safety in their premises. It is essential you remain compliant and know the true risk attached to your building.David Burns of South Ayrshire Council echoes this when he commented on the Red Hot Chilli Pipers gig, ‘Although the event organisers are ultimately responsible for health and safety during their event, we need to ensure that our facilities remain fit for purpose’.

Reducing false alarms and managing real ones correctly is essential. Social media being used to attract larger numbers to an event should simply be positive. Make sure this is the case. Keep your business premises compliant and ready for the unexpected.

If anything within this article resonates with you or you simply require reassurance that your building is in safe hands. Do not hesitate to give us a call 0345 4592300 or email communications@draxuk.com

Drax Services have been successfully providing independent alarm management supply and maintenance solutions for the last twenty years.


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Common causes for false alarms

False alarms cost both the fire service and tax payer a huge amount of time and money each year, even though the majority of false alarms are made either by mistake or without a valid reason. False alarms not only make up a third of all emergency calls, they cost the UK over £1 billion a year.

Both the emergency services and businesses suffer negatively as a result of false alarms. Whether it’s having to stop your business in order to evacuate the premises, or the increased insurance premiums that result in regularly calling out the fire service without a valid reason – it’s in the best interests of everyone that steps are taken to avoid false alarms.

So, to ensure your business is not one of those responsible for recording a false alarm to the fire service every 12 minutes, here are the most common causes for false alarms, and what you can do to avoid them.

Cooking: Whether you own a restaurant or merely boast a kitchen area in your business premises, cooking is one of the main causes for false alarms.  
Machine Work: From garages to factories, hotwork created by welding or cutting, or smoke produced by machines can end up being detected by smoke sensors and triggering an alarm.
Testing and Maintenance: Unless you are using a trained professional to test or maintain your fire systems, there is a strong chance an alarm will be tripped and the emergency services alerted.
Dust Build-Up: Paying attention to the cleaning should not only be focused on in order to impress visitors, with dust one of the most common causes of false alarms.
Temperature Change: From humidity to temperature change, a lot of false alarms happen simply because of a change in the weather and a lack of monitoring.

What you can do
While there are a number of areas where you can reduce the chances of false alarms, many of them depend on having the right fire alarm specialists working with you. As well as regularly maintaining your system and ensuring it is free of any faults, a specialist will also ensure you have the right detectors in the right areas, and that your fire system meets the required regulations.
 
To ensure your business is doing all it can to reduce the risk of false alarms, call us on 0345 459 2300, or email us at communications@draxuk.com
 
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False callouts force Scottish fire chiefs to take action

Fire chiefs in the Perthshire region of Scotland have been forced to take action in an attempt to reduce the number of false alarm callouts they currently receive. A recent report highlighted the issues the Perthshire Fire Service have to deal with, recording almost 300 false alarm callouts between October and December of 2015, taking the overall amount of false calls received throughout the year to 1,137.

Totalling almost £2,000 to answer a call-out, these false alarms have cost the service and the taxpayer more than £11 million over the past five years. In a bid to reduce the problem, fire chiefs have reached out to a variety of businesses in the region, including the likes of hospitals and hotels, offering advice on how to avoid making avoidable emergency calls.

This issue isn’t one the Perthshire service struggle with alone, and a number of similar schemes have been launched by fire services around the UK, with the majority of false alarms coming for faults that could have easily been avoided.

From cleaning dust from detection systems to removing air fresheners and resolving faulty sensors, businesses in Perthshire have now been offered some simple steps that the fire service and the local council are hoping lessens false alarms.

Perth City Centre councillor Peter Barrett said: “The service deals with a five-year average of around 300 UFAS every quarter, with the vast majority of these coming from larger premises. It is important for the owners and operators to maintain their alarm systems properly.

“These systems can be complex but basic housekeeping to keep detectors dust free can make a significant reduction in UFAS.”
 

To learn more about the right fire alarm system for your business or to ensure you don’t end up being responsible for a false alarm, contact us on communications@draxuk.co.uk  
 
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