Many of us have experienced the frustration of a false fire alarm, being sent outside to wait in the cold or witnessed the concern caused within a patient area. This is an ongoing problem and could lead to a lack of urgency or confusion in a real fire emergency. Together we can work to reduce the number of false fire alarms which can often be caused by the following simple things:-
Cause: Aerosols: This includes deodorants, body sprays and air fresheners used by patients, staff and visitors. This is by far the most common cause.
Solution: Use other non-aerosol deodorants or spray and ask patients to do the same or not to use them at all.
Cause: Steam: From showers and cooking.
Solution: Ensure shower room doors are closed during showering and immediately after use and close the doors to any kitchens or food preparation areas.
Cause: Nebulisers: Vapours from nebulisers being used directly beneath a fire detector.
Solution: When administering a nebuliser ensure there is adequate ventilation in the room and don’t use it directly beneath or near a fire detector.
Cause: Cooking: Mainly from toasters!
Solution: Never leave cooking food or toasters unattended. If you have to leave, switch the cooker or toaster off and remember, some toasters do not pop-up automatically. Close doors to any areas where food is being cooked and never wedge a kitchen door open.
Cause: Accidental Damage of Fire Alarm Boxes: by patients, staff and visitors.
Solution: Be alert to damaging fire alarm boxes (also known as Fire Call Points) accidentally, by careless movement of beds, wheelchairs or other equipment. Be observant of patients and visitors who may inadvertently set off an alarm when leaving wards or other areas.
Reporting False Alarms
All false alarms must be recorded on the Safeguard System using an Adverse Event Form which will enable an investigation to be carried out. If you are aware of a situation which could cause a false alarm please don’t wait for it to happen, report it to your line manager or contact our Health and Safety Department for advice.
Working together we CAN reduce our false fire alarms.