New AFA Policy

Reducing Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals (UFAS)

Understanding UFAS

Fire alarms are essential for early fire detection protecting lives and property. However, most alarms are false often triggered by cooking fumes, dust, or poor maintenance. Unnecessary fire alarms (UFAS) divert critical resources.

What’s Changing?

Starting early October (exact date to be confirmed in due course), Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service will not be attending automatic fire alarm activations unless a building is deemed to be a high-risk building or, unless a fire has been confirmed or there are signs of fire.

High-risk buildings are those that specifically house vulnerable people or provide sleeping accommodation for people or they represent a critical community asset that would be locally nationally or internationally damaging if lost or seriously damaged by fire. High-risk buildings are also those that might pose a significant risk to firefighter or community safety or to the safety of animals and the environment. High-risk buildings include:

  • Private homes/dwellings including residential flats mobile homes house boats etc
  • Residential care homes nursing homes children’s homes
  • Sheltered housing for more vulnerable persons
  • Schools including boarding schools
  • Secure detention facilities e.g. prisons
  • Hospitals and hospices
  • Hotels & guest houses
  • Buildings housing animals such as zoos, kennels or veterinary surgeries
  • High profile heritage buildings such as Blenheim Palace
  • Buildings that we have determined represent a high or very high-risk due to the potential community impact.
  • Critical community infrastructure such as certain military establishments telecoms and utilities infrastructure (e.g. pumping stations substations exchanges)

Steps for Businesses

  • Ensure your fire alarm systems are properly maintained and regularly inspected.
  • Train staff to safely investigate alarms before calling emergency services.
  • Update your fire safety protocols and communicate changes to all employees.
  • Consult with your insurance provider regarding the new response policy.

Reducing False Alarms

Businesses can take several measures to minimise false alarms:

  • Review and update fire safety risk assessments.
  • Log and analyse false alarms to identify patterns.
  • Upgrade outdated alarm systems with modern technology.
  • Install protective covers on manual call points.
  • Regularly maintain fire detection systems.
  • Seek advice from fire safety professionals and alarm system providers.

Benefits of Reducing False Alarms

  • Increases overall safety by ensuring alarms are taken seriously.
  • Reduces business disruptions and lost productivity.
  • Frees up fire service resources for actual emergencies.
  • Lowers the risk of road accidents from emergency responses.

For more detailed guidance visit our business advice page.

Contact Us

For more information or advice about the new fire alarm response policy please contact Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service here: Contact us

In an emergency always call 999.