CFA attends a large number of unwanted false alarms each year.
False alarms attended by CFA have been steadily increasing over the years; we believe this may be attributable to a number of factors:
- Ageing buildings & alarm systems
- Increase in new infrastructure and alarm systems in outer urban and regional (CFA) areas
- General cost cutting within business & industry to cope with economic downturn; less focus on alarm and building maintenance
CFA field personnel report that many false alarms are due to a lack of maintenance and/or poor management of fire alarm systems & work practices.
In response, CFA commenced a program of charging for unwanted false alarms. This is supported by State Government legislation, which enables CFA to charge owners & occupiers if there was no ‘reasonable excuse’ for the false alarm.
While the numbers of false alarms initially decreased and have remained steady for several years, CFA believe the number of unwanted false alarms would have increased drastically had it not been for such legislation and the charging program.
To enable CFA to concentrate on more worthwhile projects such as Community Fireguard and various school and community education programs; it is vital we continue to work towards a reduction in unwanted false alarms.
CFA generally advise of a false alarm attendance by leaving a False Alarm Entry Advice Form (PDF 37k) at the premises. If you have a false alarm at your premises and are concerned you may not have received an Entry Advice, please contact your local Brigade or Region office.
If CFA determine that a charge is appropriate for an unwanted False Alarm, an invoice will be sent to you, along with a letter explaining the reason for the charge, and how the charge has been calculated. In determining whether a charge shall apply, CFA take into account the following factors:
- Any submission by the owner/occupier
- Whether prevention of the false alarm was in control of the owner/occupier
- Whether maintenance books were available and the test history of the fire alarm system
- Information in the False Alarm Entry Advice and the Fire Incident Reporting System report
- Whether the premises has a history of similar false alarms, and what has been done by the owner/occupier to address the issue
If an owner/occupier does not believe they should receive a charge for a false alarm at their premises, they may provide a written submission to CFA, which should outline:
- Any actions taken to address the false alarm activation
- Evidence of maintenance, if the call was generated by an equipment fault
- Whether they provide support to CFA by way of allowing employees whom are volunteers, to attend incidents during working hours (without penalty to the employee). Premises which provide this type of support to volunteers may be eligible for a discount.
Submissions can be made to CFA via your local Region office
Discounts Provided to Businesses that Support CFA Volunteers
CFA provides for up to a 30% discount to a maximum of $10,000 per annum, from false alarm charges for businesses that allow active CFA volunteers to attend incidents during work time; and full exemptions from charges for businesses fully owned by active CFA volunteers.
Occasionally however; businesses approach CFA requesting a full or partial exemption from charges, on the basis that they provide considerable support to CFA. In these cases, exemptions may be granted, depending on individual circumstances.
Many false alarm charges are withdrawn however, on the basis of “reasonable excuse”. This is distinct from receiving an exemption because where reasonable excuse exists; the charge is not warranted and can be withdrawn.
For further information on false alarm charging, please contact your local CFA Region office.