Consultations

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UFAS Consultation

Reducing Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals - Approval of Recommendations for Responding to Automatic Fire Alarms

At its meeting on 16 December 2021, the SFRS Board approved recommendations for implementing a new model for responding to automatic fire alarms (AFAs) in Scotland.  Following a 12-week consultation, recommendations were made to the Board that SFRS should adopt Option A with some amendments which reflected the feedback received during the consultation.  The recommendations which were presented and subsequently approved by the SFRS Board are:

Option A

  • Call challenge all AFAs from non-domestic premises, unless exempt.
  • No response is mobilised, if questioning confirms there is no fire, or signs of fire.
  • Automatic exemption applied to hospitals, is increased to a PDA of two appliances regardless time of day and shall be subject to periodic review.
  • Sleeping risk premises are exempt from call challenging and will receive the following immediate response:
    • Residential Care Homes receive a PDA of two fire appliances regardless time of day.
    • All other sleeping risks receive a PDA of one fire appliance between 0700-1800hrs and two fire appliances out-with these hours.
  • Implementation of the preferred option is postponed until April 2023, and
  • The COVID-19 interim response to AFAs, will remain in place until go live of the preferred option.

By adopting the above recommendation, it’s estimated that the SFRS will reduce UFAS by 57%. This additional capacity will provide opportunities for reinvesting into areas that will deliver greater value, such as upskilling staff, training and more prevention work.

Implementation of the preferred option will commence through a carefully planned and managed approach from January 2022 onwards, and this will involve working closely with stakeholders directly affected by any changes.

Local Senior Officer led engagements will aim to provide dutyholders with support and guidance on considerations for fire protection, limiting false alarms, training staff and other relevant measures.

Nationally, dutyholders will be fully supported by the SFRS, through a programme of sector specific fire safety seminars.

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Section is available to access.

If you require further information or have any queries, then please email: SFRS.EnforcementCentre@firescotland.gov.uk

The SFRS Board paper, full consultation report and associated documents are available to view.

The three options which were consulted on are;

Option A – Estimated 57% reduction in attendance

  • Call challenge all AFAs from non-domestic premises, unless exempt.
  • No response is mobilised, if questioning confirms there is no fire, or signs of fire.
  • Automatic exemption applied to hospitals, is increased to a pre-determined attendance (PDA) of two appliances regardless time of day and shall be subject to periodic review.
  • Sleeping risk premises are exempt from call challenging and will receive the following immediate response:
    • Residential Care Homes receive a PDA of two fire appliances regardless time of day.
    • All other sleeping risks receive a PDA of one fire appliance between 0700-1800hrs and two fire appliances out-with these hours.

Option B – Estimated 85% reduction in attendance
Our OC staff will call challenge all AFAs from non-domestic premises.

  • No response will be mobilised, if questioning through call challenge confirms there is no fire, or signs of fire.
  • No exemptions to call challenging apply (i.e. all AFA calls received are call challenged, regardless of property type and caller).

Option C – Estimated 71% reduction in attendance
Non-attendance to AFAs from non-domestic premises.

  • Our OC staff will advise the caller that we will not attend unless a back-up 999 call confirming fire, or signs of fire is received.
  • Property types recognised by us as having sleeping provision will be exempt and therefore they will receive the following immediate response to an AFA:
    • Residential Care Homes will receive a PDA of two fire appliances regardless of the time of day
    • All other sleeping risks receive a PDA of one fire appliance between 0700-1800hrs and a PDA of two fire appliances out-with these hours

CONSULTATION CLOSED:

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) closed its 12-week consultation on Monday, 11October where it sought the views from the people of Scotland on the Service’s response to automatic fire alarms.

Each year, the SFRS attends more than 28,000 false alarms from workplace automatic fire alarms, known as AFAs. The aim of the consultation was to gather views on the options, reduce the number of false alarms attended and allow firefighters to use that time to do more for the communities of Scotland.

The consultation received around 600 responses from members of the public, staff, partner agencies and businesses who may be impacted by the Services proposals.

We are grateful to our partners and members of the public for sharing their views on our proposals.  UFAS alerts account for almost one third of fire and rescue activity across Scotland. They place a drain on front line services, increase risk to road users and cause interruption to the business sector and communities.

If we can change how we respond to these alerts, potentially 64,000 hours per year of our staff’s time can be released for other activities, including training and developing firefighters with additional skills to meet the changing needs of Scotland and help keep people safer than ever before. We will also be able to invest more time to support workplaces and prevent false alarms from happening by working with those who have a legal responsibility for fire safety, known as a duty holder, to understand their obligations.

The SFRS will now analyse and consider all responses before a report, with the recommended preferred option, is prepared for the SFRS Board’s consideration in December 2021.

The SFRS will look to start implementing any changes in 2022, through a carefully planned and managed approach, which will include working with stakeholders and staff directly affected by any changes implemented.


Why change?

Changing the way we respond to AFAs in the workplace will allow us to use our resources more effectively and help to make our communities even safer. This means freeing up staff time so firefighters are available to deal with real emergencies. We will also invest more time on other activities such as training and prevention work. 

Chief Officer Martin Blunden explains more:

This consultation is not about how we respond to fire alarm signals from private homes and we will continue to respond to these.


Get involved

Read our consultation document and consider our proposed options. It’s important that you fully understand how things might change before you share your views.

Watch the videos that explain the three options, exemptions and call challenge. 

UFAS Consultation: Call Challenge Explained

 

UFAS Consultation: Exemptions Explained

 

UFAS Consultation: Option A Explained

 

UFAS Consultation: Option B Explained

 

UFAS Consultation: Option C Explained

Make your voice heard and take part in our short survey before 11.59pm on Monday 11 October.

Help us make Scotland an even safer country for everyone.


More Information

Find more information in our FAQs.

Read and download the following documents:

Time for Change: Reducing Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals - Summary document

Time for Change: Reducing Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals - Plain text version

Time for Change: Reducing Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals Survey - Plain text version

UFAS Time For Change Consultation document – Gaelic PDF

UFAS Time For Change Consultation document – Gaelic Word document - this also includes the survey form in Gaelic for completion 


Get In Touch

You can get in touch with questions or comments relating to this consultation via the contact details below.

Or to receive a printed copy of ‘Time for Change: Reducing Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals’ and the consultation survey or in an alternative format including large print or translations, please:

  • write to FREEPOST SFRS Communications, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Westburn Drive, Cambuslang, Glasgow G72 7NA 

What will your response help to achieve?

An analysis of responses to this consultation, including a preferred option, will be considered by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Board in December 2021.

Any changes to service delivery will be implemented from early 2022 in a carefully managed process and in partnership with directly affected stakeholders.