Scottish Fire and Rescue Service changes to the response to automatic fire alarms

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service changes to the response to automatic fire alarms

Update on the way the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SF&RS) the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SF&RS) responds to automatic fire alarm systems in non-domestic buildings where there are no sleeping risks

Dear Colleagues

From the 1 July 2023, (i.e. changes do not apply to halls of residence).

The University has had meetings with the SF&RS to ensure we are fully conversant with the changes and to feed back to them our views.

For our estate it means that fire crews will no longer attend automatically on the sounding of an alarm unless there is:

  • Visible or physical signs of fire (the presence of smoke, flame, and or heat)

  • Heat detector activation

  • Multi-criteria detector activation

  • Manual call point activation

  • Sprinkler head or other form fire suppression activation

  • Multiple heads/zones activation (e.g. more than one smoke detector)

In addition to all University buildings being covered by automatic fire detection systems, the majority are connected directly to Security.

To mitigate risk, when a fire alarm is raised it will immediately be investigated by Security Teams to ascertain if it is a fire or a false alarm.

To assist with the swift reactions by Security Officers, staff are encouraged to contact the security office to inform them if they know the fire alarm activation is due to a real fire, or an accident (for example a broken call point, dust in a detector head, etc), provided that it is safe to do so. Personal safety remains paramount, and staff should still exit the building in line with current University evacuation procedures following the sounding of a fire alarm, even if they believe it to be a false alarm.

Security teams will then investigate and only once they have made an assessment that it is safe to re-enter the buildings will staff, students and visitors be allowed to re-enter.

Security staff have undertaken additional training together with building representatives to ensure alarm activations are dealt with appropriately and in line with the the new SF&RS procedures.

Staff are reminded of the risk of lone working in buildings, particularly out of hours when fire wardens / floor checkers may not be available to check the building has been evacuated.  Please avoid working alone in buildings if possible and, if essential, ensure your presence and location is known, so that we can ensure you are accounted for in an emergency.


Best wishes



Morag Beers

Director Estates and Facilities

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