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Planned changes come into force for automatic fire alarm responses in Scotland

Unless a fire has been confirmed, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) will not attend automatic fire alarm (AFA) call outs to commercial business and workplace premises

In a move that will bring SFRS in line with the recommendation adopted by many fire brigades in England and Wales, from 1 July firefighters in Scotland will only respond to an automatic fire alarm at a business premises if a call has also been placed to confirm a fire.

A confirmed call is:

  • A phone call from someone claiming to be able to see the fire or smoke
  • A remote monitoring station receiving more than one activation alarm from different devices because multiple emergency devices have operated
  • One fire alarm with confirmation via local CCTV checked remotely by the Keyholder/remote monitoring company


David Farries, SFRS Director of Service Delivery said: “Our crews attend more than 28,000 false alarms each year […] These types of incidents account for almost one-third of our activity across Scotland, and they are often caused by cooking fumes, dust, or a lack of maintenance.

“Responding to false alarms places a significant drain on front line services and causes lengthy interruptions to workplace and business premises […] By changing our response to these types of alarms, we can potentially free up 64,000 hours every year.”


Key guidance for businesses includes:

  • Ensuring that staff and occupants are made aware of how to respond safely to AFA activations
  • Reviewing fire safety risk assessments
  • Updating action plans
  • Checking detector types and where they are located and replacing outdated automatic fire detection systems with multi-sensing detectors.


Insured customers in Scotland should contact their remote alarm monitoring company and local Fire Officer to check if their call-out protocols will or have changed (from 1 July 2023).

If so, they should re-agree the callout and response protocols, so all parties are operating from the same emergency plan.