The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Summoning the Fire Service – Part 3

July 5, 2018 11:16 am

In LWF’s blog series for those who work in Facilities Management, or who have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety, we have been looking at fire procedures in organisations. In part 2, what should happen when the alarm is raised was discussed and in part 3, we will look at the Fire Service, in the context of the importance of them attending a fire promptly.


The Fire Service should be summoned to attend every instance of fire, no matter how small it might seem to be. Any delay in calling for the Fire Service to attend could result in danger to life and excessive property loss. Upon discovery of a fire, a manual call point should be activated immediately.


A delay in requesting the attendance of the Fire Service has been a significant contributory factor in the majority of fire disasters and action must be taken immediately the fire alarm signal is activated. The fire procedures must state the procedure for summoning the Fire Service, which may be that the switchboard operator calls for assistance before exiting the building. However, in times when most members of staff will be carrying mobile phones as a matter of course, it may be that the designated person for the task could exit the building while calling the Fire Service.


The procedures must take into account the possibility that the person who discovers the fire may sound the alarm, but that the designated person to summon the Fire Service will be unaware of the alarm. Therefore it is important that such persons are able to monitor the fire alarm panel and receive the signal that the alarm has been sounded in another part of the building or complex, prompting them to call for assistance.


As with any machinery, there is the chance that the fire alarm panel may be faulty and in order to provide a failsafe system, the system should include that the person who discovers the fire should, after sounding the alarm and evacuating to a place of safety, contact the person designated to call the Fire Service to check that they have done so.


With many fire alarm systems, the signal may be received by an alarm receiving centre who will contact the Fire Service immediately. While this is a good fall-back system, it does not preclude the necessity of a call being made directly to the Fire Service from the premises. As well as ensuring that the Fire Service receive all necessary information about the premises and fire, it helps to avoid reliance on a system which can fail. The link to the ARC may not work or an incorrect action at the central station could result in a long delay or failure to summon the Fire Service.


In part 4 of this series, LWF will continue to talk about summoning the fire service. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings. 


While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.


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