Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service

Shropshire Fire & Rescue Service are very active in reducing the burden on society of false alarms from automatic fire alarms systems. Indeed we have enjoyed considerable success in driving these down and the Fire Service, the public and the alarm owners themselves have all benefited as a result.

To manage the problem we study the cause of every false alarm we are called to and try to assist the owner of the alarm system to prevent reoccurrence. One of the main problems we have found is fumes from burnt food (mainly burnt toast) setting off smoke detectors in close proximity.

There are of course various options available to overcome this problem including changing the detector to CO or heat where appropriate (following a robust risk assessment and taking technical advice), or preventing the problem at source perhaps by relocation of the toaster/cooker. This may not always be possible, practicable or desirable and a suitable form of extraction system may be the answer.

It is not our policy to endorse any particular product but I am aware that one product ‘cooker miser’ has been used with good effect in many venues to overcome this problem.

I understand that this has the advantage of operating automatically and therefore does not rely on human intervention. 

There may be other such products o the market and it would be inappropriate for me to favour any particular make, however, I would encourage anyone who might influence control over false alarms in premises they have responsibility for to take all measures possible. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has developed a guidance document which explains the magnitude of the problem and offers practical advice on minimising false alarms. This is available for free download on the ODPM website. 

Mike Ablitt. Fire Safety Officer.


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