HBP would like inform you that the London Fire Brigade (LFB) will change its approach to how it attends automatic fire alarms (AFA). From 1 October 2024 LFB will no longer be attending AFAs between the hours of 07:00 – 20:30 in commercial properties – unless a call is also received from a person reporting a fire.

LFB will continue to always respond to all automatic fire alarms in residential buildings and in schools, nurseries, hospitals, care homes, heritage sites, and other exempt premises (a full list of exemptions to this policy is at the end of this letter).  LFB will continue to always attend when called to a fire by a member of the public and to AFAs between 20:30-07:00.

As an organisation, I wanted to share this information with you in advance of the roll out of the policy on 1st October to ensure you understand your fire safety responsibilities and are prepared to take action. We would also welcome any support you might be able to provide in sharing this change with your colleagues in your sector.

For more information about the policy, including advice for business owners and responsible people, please visit our FAQ page: www.london-fire.gov.uk/afa-policy

Why are the London Fire Brigade changing its policy on AFA attendance?

In 2023/24 AFAs made up 40 per cent of all LFB incidents attended – 52,000 calls.  Less than one per cent of calls from non-residential AFAs are ultimately recorded as fires – 99 per cent are false alarms. This is not a good use of our resources and by not attending AFAs where there is no sign of a fire, LFB will be able to use this additional time for operational training and to increase fire prevention in local communities. This will include additional fire safety checks in homes and businesses, premises familiarisation visits and understanding, reducing and preparing for specific local risks, such as wildfires or flooding.

This change in policy is in line with nearly all other Fire and Rescue Services. These changes are being introduced in London following a consultation held last year with members of the public, businesses, partners and LFB staff.

Over the coming months, in advance of the roll out of the policy, LFB will be sharing key information and reaching out to organisations, businesses and individuals who are responsible for fire safety in buildings to make sure they understand their responsibilities and take action to be prepared for the change in policy.

LFB will review and monitor the impact of the new policy as it rolls out to ensure it is working as intended, and we will make adjustments if any issues are identified.

If you have any questions or would like any additional information on the change in policy, please contact Dipika Chowdhury our Business Engagement Co-ordinator by using the details at the end of the email.

List of premises exempt from London Fire Brigades change in policy in responding to Automatic Fire Alarms

  • Private Dwellings/Houses
  • Flats (includes high-rise)
  • Houses in Multiple Occupation
  • Mobile/Park homes
  • Houseboats
  • Hospitals
  • Residential care homes / Nursing homes / Hospices
  • Children’s homes
  • Specialised housing premises (e.g., sheltered housing, extra care sheltered housing, supporting living)
  • Student accommodation / halls of residence
  • Residential Boarding schools
  • Hotels/Motels/B&Bs and other guest accommodation
  • Hostels (e.g., homeless, rehabilitation) / Youth Hostels
  • Prisons / Young offenders’ institutions/other secure establishments
  • Heritage Buildings.
  • Schools.
  • Nurseries.
  • Other buildings of substantial public significance.
  • High risk sites storing volumes of dangerous substances (e.g. COMAH sites)
  • Buildings of substantial public significance where LFB consider exemption appropriate through a future planned review utilising empirical data
  • Buildings of substantial public significance where LFB consider exemption appropriate through a specific local risk assessment in line with a Borough

Risk Management Plan1

  • Buildings of substantial public significance where LFB consider exemption appropriate through the LFB published Annual Assessment of Risk (AoR)

London Fire Brigade

169 Union Street London SE1 0LL

T 020 8555 1200

M 07597 561362

E dipika.chowdhury@london-fire.gov.uk