Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) is urging building owners and occupiers to play their part in further reducing the number of Unwanted Alarms (UAs) around the state.
Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said QFES was working with building owners and occupiers with high numbers of automatic alarm call-outs to help reduce system-initiated UAs.
“Despite the burden of UAs, our firefighters are committed to every call-out they receive,” Mr Crawford said. “Unwanted automatic alarm call-outs currently represent about 25 per cent of all fire and rescue responses (from July 1, 2017 to May 31, 2018 there were about 64,000 incidents).
“Reducing UAs is a priority to prevent unnecessary responses while improving confidence in fire detection and alarm systems to ensure a safer community. QFES’ Unwanted Alarms Unit has worked with 337 building owners and occupiers across Queensland since it began in 2006 to reduce the number of unacceptable UAs.”
Mr Crawford said QFES records showed a continuing decline in the number of system-initiated false alarms by an average number of 3.7 in 2005-2006 to 2.4 in 2016-2017 where Alarm Signalling Equipment (ASE) was installed.
“This is particularly pleasing, as the number of buildings with ASE has actually risen from 5,828 connections in 2005-2006 to 7,499 by 31 May 2018.”
Mr Crawford said increased awareness is being achieved through a combination of pre and post construction activities with building designers and owners/occupiers.
“The UAs Unit provides direct advice to owners of those buildings identified as having a high alarm frequency,” he said.
“QFES developed a pragmatic test that involves practical cooking and hot shower simulations to prove the strategies outlined in our guidelines work to minimise or eliminate UAs.
“There have been 173 pragmatic tests conducted on 108 buildings with a pass rate on first testing of 89%. Any building that fails initial testing has rectification works completed before retesting. The target rate for UAs activations per building is ‘less than 4’ and is presently around 2.4 per building.”
UAs activations are charged to the premises owner if they have had other activations in the previous 60-day period. QFES will charge a fee of almost $1300 for attendance at chargeable UAs calls in 2018-19. This represents only a portion of the cost of service provision for QFES and costs recovered form part of the overall QFES annual budget.
QFES Assistant Commissioner John Watson said it is pleasing to see the amount of education and training on offer to building owners and occupiers to help improve safety.
“The number of UAs is declining and that shows what we are doing is working,” he said. “Our firefighters are here to serve and protect the community and that is their primary focus.
“Less UAs enables them to more effectively do their job and that in turns keeps Queenslanders safe.”
Formore information on the smoke alarm laws, go to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services website, https://www.qld.gov.au/emergency/safety/smoke-alarms.html
Minister for Fire and Emergency Services
The Honourable Craig Crawford