Calling the fire service

The majority of University buildings with automatic fire alarm and detection systems are monitored by the University Security Services (and in a few cases by other alarm receiving centres).

One of the strategic objectives set for Fire Authorities by Central Government is to reduce the number of responses to automatic fire detection systems resulting from unwanted fire signals. In complying with this objective, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, between the hours of 08.30 and 17.00 weekdays, upon receiving a call from a receiving centre, will ask for confirmation that there is a fire and that their attendance is required.

The fire service deems that non-residential buildings are occupied during these times and (for the purpose of their objective) are adequately managed by staff able to check and determine the reason for the fire alarm activation.

Clearly it is not possible for a controller in a remote receiving centre to confirm whether there is a fire. Neither is it acceptable for management staff of the building in alarm to wait until the arrival of University Security Services staff (who are despatched to all alarm activations) before any positive action is taken to determine whether the fire service is needed or not.

Consequently, persons at the premises are required to immediately make use of the information displayed on the fire alarm control panel and the fire alarm device location plan in order to quickly check the part of the building where the alarm has activated. If a fire is obvious or reported, discovered or suspected, a ‘999’ call must be made from the premises directly to the fire service. Upon receipt of a ‘999’ call to a confirmed fire, the fire service will respond.

If the cause of the fire alarm activation is discovered to be accidental there is no need to call the fire service. The receiving centre must be informed, the alarm system can be silenced and reset, and occupants allowed back into the building.

Between 17.00 through until 08.30 the following day, buildings are deemed to have insufficient management staff available to determine whether the fire service is required or not. During this time period the University Security Services will immediately inform the fire service that the fire alarm and detection system has activated, and that the building is ‘unmanaged’. Confirmation to the fire service that the building is unmanaged will action an immediate attendance. Buildings are also considered to be unmanaged at weekends and during all public holidays. However it is essential that anyone present in the building during the unmanaged period must evacuate the building, and must call the fire service by dialling ‘999’ if there are any signs of a fire.

For those buildings that include sleeping accommodation, the fire service will only attend, upon receipt of a call from the University Security Services, between the hours of 22.00 and 08.00 every day. At all other times a ‘999’ call must be made from the premises if there is a fire, and any persons on the premises discovering a fire between 22.00 and 08.00 must also call the fire service by dialling ‘999’.

This Policy Document does not apply to University staff working in embedded space in NHS administered buildings. They must comply with NHS requirements for summoning the fire service.


March 2005