Automatic Fire Alarm Calls – 15099

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A request for information on the number of automatic fire alarm calls (AFAs) we have received.

Ref: FOI/15099


West Midlands Fire Service has now completed its search for the information requested on 6th August 2015.

Please find below a summary of our findings.


  • The number of times in each of the past three years (2013 to 2015 to date) you have received false fire calls from automatic fire alarm systems.
  • For each of the past five years (2013 to 2015 to date), the five locations/sites with the highest number of false calls from automatic fire alarm systems and the number of calls from each location.


AFA Calls

Additional information regarding AFAs and hospitals:

Hospitals work under two standards in relation to AFAs which may be worth knowing:

  • Firecode part H – this is the standard that the NHS uses to measure performance in relation to false alarms.  This includes a graph on what is acceptable or not based upon number of detector heads in the building compared to the number of false alarms.  It is slightly more stringent than the second standard.
  • BS5839 – this states that a system is functioning well and being maintained if they have less than 1 call per 25 detector heads per annum.  A hospital may have around 6000 detector heads so they could have 240 AFAs and this not be a faulty system.  This does not mean we should attend however!!

In context then – a building with 25 detector heads should only have 1 AFA per annum, a hospital with 6000 should only have 240 AFA per annum.

In conclusion, the hospitals may appear to be a real problem but under BS5839 and FireCode part H they comply and are performing satisfactorily and in the context they are probably not our worst performers, just they have the highest numbers!  Clearly we don’t want to be attending any false alarms and BS5839 also references this.

If you have any queries about this freedom of information request, please contact us. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

For service complaints, issues or comments regarding this request please contact The Public Relations Department, West Midlands Fire Service, 99 Vauxhall Road, Birmingham, B7 4HW

Further information concerning Freedom of Information requests can be found on the Information Commissioner website at either the following link: or at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, SK9 5AF.

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