Our response to Automatic Fire Alarms

Automatic fire alarms (AFAs) help to keep building occupants safe by providing early warning in the event of fire.

However, they can also be the cause of false alarms. This means that fire crews are not available to attend genuine emergencies where people’s lives may be at risk, or to carry out training or community safety work to help prevent fires from happening in the first place.

For this reason, we do not respond to investigate AFA calls from non-residential premises between 8am and 6pm (including bank holidays).

We will always respond to calls 24 hours a day if:

  • a back up call is received through 999 reporting a fire or signs of fire (such as a smell of burning)
  • you have been granted an exemption by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service

We will always respond to:

  • single private domestic dwellings and sheltered accommodation schemes
  • other residential premises such as hostels, hotels and care homes
  • hospitals
  • education premises such as universities, colleges and schools including pre-schools and nurseries
  • registered Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) sites
  • premises who have successfully applied to us for exemption (see ‘Exemption Criteria’ tab below for further information).

Changes to our AFA response policy

From 1 October 2019, we will extend this policy to include educational premises and will no longer automatically respond to investigate AFAs between 08:00 and 18:00, Monday to Friday, during term time (if applicable).

Between 18:00 and 08:00 hours, and on bank holidays and school holidays, AFA calls to educational premises will continue to receive an emergency response.

Educational premises are able to apply for an exemption.

Our AFA response policy applies to calls received directly from premises and through alarm receiving centres.

Contact us for more information on our AFA response policy or applying for exemption.