Questions & Answers - MFS Monitored

Q1 What do I do if I have a problem/fault with my Alarm Signalling Equipment (ASE)

Have your fire alarm contractor report the problem/fault to the Telstra Managed Fire Alarm Service (MFAS) fault reporting service on 1800 532 005.

Q2. Why does the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) charge for attending automatic unwanted alarm activations?

MFS commenced charging for attendance at unwanted alarms due to the increasing number of times MFS attended buildings where it was clear that fire alarm systems were either not performing to Australian Standards, or not being maintained to a performance standard that prevented unnecessary fire alarm system activations.

Q3. What is a chargeable alarm?

chargeable unwanted alarm is an unwanted alarm from a fire alarm system where the cause of the unwanted alarm was due to an activity of an occupant or inaction of an owner and where the activation of the alarm could have been prevented.

non chargeable unwanted alarm is an unwanted alarm from a fire alarm system where the cause of the unwanted alarm is considered to be beyond the control of the owner/occupant and was unforeseen or unpredictable and where no activity of an occupant can be blamed for the alarms activation. This includes storms or other acts of nature or occurrences that the owner cannot control.

Q4. Under what circumstances does the MFS charge for attending unwanted alarms caused by; e.g. cooking fumes, burnt toast, workman activating a fire alarm, and other like unwanted activations?

No charge is made for attendance at fires within the MFS gazetted boundaries. A charge may be generated following analysis of the reason for the fire alarm activation in light of the definition of a chargeable alarm (refer to Question 2). A charge may be generated as a result of e.g. cooking fumes activating a smoke detector due to people not adequately supervising the cooking activity. This is a matter that can be managed by the occupant, or building design features that can be utilised to control cooking fumes.

If the actual cooking appliance is on fire, and has caused a fire, no charge will be made. However, the fault in the appliance will need to be reported by the attending fire officer, and the appliance manufacturer advised. There will be an investigation of any potential fire risks associated with that device. If necessary, a public warning may be issued.

Q5. Why is a fire alarm system installed in a building?

Fire alarm systems are required by the National Constriction Code of Australia, or in older buildings the legislation at the time, and are installed to:

  • give early warning of fire to the occupants
  • allow safe and early evacuation from the building
  • protect occupants from smoke inhalation or fire
  • provide MFS with early notification of, and allow early response to a fire in a building
  • reduce loss of life
  • reduce property damage
  • reduce the amount of business lost
  • minimise risk to the public who attend unfamiliar properties
  • act as a duty of care in the interest of the public
  • reduce damage to the environment.

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Q6. How should owner/occupiers manage contractors working on premises fitted with an automatic fire alarm system?

When a workman is engaged to perform work in a building fitted with an automatic fire alarm system, it is recommended that the complex manager instigate precautions that ensure no unwanted alarms occur as a result of the workman's activities. The responsibilities of the contractor should be established, including the consequences of causing an unwanted alarm. The manager should establish the expectation upon the contractor to meet any consequential MFS charges invoiced to the property, if that is the policy of the business. MFS does not issue chargeable alarm invoices to the contractor.

The fire alarm zones/detectors in which work is being undertaken should be isolated while work is being undertaken. It is recommended that a person is tasked as a safety watch while the fire alarm zone is isolated. It is important that all workers are instructed about the consequences of working with fire alarm systems. Managers should establish awareness of the 'timed delay' feature of the Essential Safety Provisions (ESP) to ensure all contractors working in the building understand it.

Contractors should be met at the entry point and provided with a formal induction briefing per a prepared policy. Emphasis should be made of the importance of noting the time limitation for which the ESP isolates the system.

Q7. As a manager of a building that has numerous occupants and tenants, how do owner/occupiers forward or apportion MFS chargeable alarm accounts to either the tenant, or person associated with creating the unwanted alarm activations?

MFS have an obligation to forward all chargeable alarm invoices to the person/agent with whom MFS have entered into a fire alarm monitoring agreement. The decision in relation to how a MFS account is disbursed (if any disbursement is to occur) to any particular person or tenant within the complex is the responsibility of the building body corporate/managers. In the case of a malicious unwanted fire alarm, the property manager has the recourse of provisions within the law to seek reimbursement from the perpetrator.

Q8. Does a building receive any free unwanted alarms?

In some circumstances the MFS currently allows monitored automatic fire alarms an initial free call to an unwanted alarm call. There is also a grace period in which time is available to rectify the problem. This length of time for rectification varies and depends on the day of the week (in relation to the original alarm activation). Should a second or subsequent unwanted alarm occur within 60 days the second and subsequent unwanted alarm activation will be chargeable. Attendance by MFS at the second and any subsequent chargeable alarm at any premises within any '60 day' period constitutes attendance at a 'chargeable alarm'.

The 60 day period is not based on 60 days from the first of the month. The start of the 60 days commences when a chargeable alarm occurs, and an invoice is created when a second and subsequent chargeable alarm occurs within 60 days of the first chargeable alarm. Currently, the first chargeable alarm may be free and the second and subsequent chargeable alarms are invoiced.

Additional consideration is given for incorrect testing by building owners/ occupiers. A charge occurs if there is more than three unwanted alarms in a 60 day period. This is to encourage building owner/ occupiers to be familiar with their fire panels and evacuation systems

For further detail about alarm codes and charging refer to ‘MFS Codes for Alarm Charging’ and ‘avoidable and unavoidable alarms’.

Q9. What is the purpose of a free unwanted alarm in a 60 day period?

The purpose of a free unwanted alarm is to recognise that sometimes accidents may happen, and to provide the owner/occupier with an opportunity to address the cause of the unwanted alarm to ensure that no further unwanted alarms occur in the future. The failure of owner/occupiers to improve poorly performing automatic fire alarm systems will cause MFS to move towards charging for all chargeable alarms.

Q10. What should an owner/occupier do when a fire alarm activates?

In the event of a fire alarm operating in a building, it is the responsibility of the owner/occupier to ensure that building evacuation plan procedures are implemented upon hearing the automatic fire alarm system operate. The building evacuation plan procedures are to be adopted by managers, staff, and occupants in the event of an emergency.

Various key response functions are required as per the building evacuation plan. The specific tasks conducted by building managers are referred to in the Australian Standards related to evacuation procedures. Due to the comprehensiveness of proper evacuation plans, it is essential that owner/occupiers fully understand formal legal requirements. Emergency Training Providers or MFS specialist staff in the Community Safety and Resilience Department can provide advice and guidance, phone 8204 3611.

As a part of these evacuation procedures, delegated staff members may, if safe to do so and as a part of the planned tasks:

  • attend the fire alarm panel
  • determine the location of the fire alarm activation
  • investigate the cause of the fire alarm if safe to do so
  • search the area
  • evacuate the area
  • provide the MFS officer (upon their arrival, or en route) with a situation report about the alarm activation status
  • do not reset alarm.

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Q11. How does MFS decide which alarm activation will be chargeable?

The attending fire officer investigates the cause of the fire alarm activation and notes this information in their fire report. A computerised query of the electronic fire report is compiled to identify all call-outs to monitored automatic fire alarms. The electronic query lists the calls in order showing the reason for the alarm activation.

Q12. What is the purpose of reducing the number of unwanted alarms?

MFS is most concerned about the level of complacency occurring in the whole community when an automatic fire alarm operates. The fire alarm is an early warning device that is being ignored too often. It is often being regarded as just another unwanted alarm. This cultural view represents the potential for people, who choose not to egress the building when the alarm is raised, to become overcome by smoke and place their lives and the lives of others at risk. Too many people have died as a result of poorly performing fire safety systems. One of the responsibilities of MFS is to educate all sections of the community in best practice safety procedures.

Q13. What are non-chargeable automatic fire alarm system activations?

A non-chargeable unwanted alarm is an unwanted alarm from a fire alarm system where the cause of the unwanted alarm is considered to be beyond the control of the owner / occupant and was unforeseen or unpredictable and where no activity of an occupant can be blamed for the alarms activation. This includes storms or other acts of nature or occurrences that the owner cannot control.

Attendance to a fire alarm where a fire has occurred is a non-chargeable response.

 Q14. Why are building owners responsible for the maintenance of the alarm system when they personally did not install the original system?

On change of ownership of the premises, the new owner must sign the MFS ‘Agreement to Connect’ form which lays out their obligations and the obligations of the Fire Service. By signing the agreement, the new owner takes responsibility for the alarm system. In most cases the installation of the fire alarm and monitoring of the system by the MFS is a requirement under the National Construction Code of Australia (BCA).

Q15. Why should owner/occupiers take responsibility to ensure that the fire alarm system operates correctly?

Minister's Specification SA 76, called up in SA Development Act 1993 specifies the requirements for maintenance of fire alarm systems. The MFS ‘Agreement to Connect’ requires the building owner to "maintain the fire alarm detection or suppression system in good working order".

As responsible corporate citizens, as a duty of care, and in recognition of the actual consequences of a non-operable business due to a fire (that occurred because poor fire alarm system performance led to the isolation of various sections), owner/occupiers have formal and ethical responsibility to ensure the auto fire alarm system is compliant to required standards.

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Q16. Has a fire appliance rushing to an unwanted alarm ever been involved in an accident where a citizen has died or has been injured?

Unfortunately this has occurred. Fire appliances responding to emergency calls from automatic fire alarm system activation have been involved in motor vehicle accidents. This includes calls that subsequently proved to be unwanted alarms. MFS is very concerned at this unnecessary loss, and is committed to implementing strategies designed to eliminate future occurrences.

Correctly operating fire alarm systems are an intrinsic part of preventing unnecessary loss of life within the community. This includes responsibility for not only the events occurring in a particular building, but additionally, responsibility for relative duty of care associated with managing events generated as a result of the fire alarm activation.

Q17. Why does MFS want to reduce the number of unwanted alarms?

MFS is committed to an objective of significantly reducing complacency among the community when a fire alarm operates. There is a greater risk to the community and firefighters by responding to unwanted alarms. Until determined otherwise the response is for a fire in the building (under lights and sirens).

The time consumed by MFS attending unwanted alarms can be better utilised undertaking tasks that are more important to achieving fire safety in the community.

Responding to a faulty fire alarm system because the fire alarm system was not performing appropriately is unacceptable when responsible parties could have managed the performance of the automatic fire alarm system.

Q18. Why does the MFS forward an account for attending automatic fire alarm activations that upon investigation show no sign or reason for the activation?

A correctly operating fire alarm system is installed to provide early warning of a fire. In the event of a fire, generally tell-tale signs of the combustion process are evident in some form. The occurrence of an actual fire does not result in an invoice for a chargeable alarm being generated.

Where the fire alarm system has facilitated a fault that causes an alarm activation (i.e. for a technical reason, and in the absence of clear evidence of a fire triggering the alarm), it is evident that some part of the automatic fire alarm system is not functioning correctly.

A fire alarm panel that is not operating correctly is the responsibility of the owner/occupier to manage. Therefore, where the reason for the unwanted activation is an improperly operating fire alarm system, and there was no need for MFS to attend, an account may be generated.

Q19. What can be done to improve an existing automatic fire alarm system that is creating numerous unwanted alarms?

The building owner/occupier should contact the body corporate, senior management, fire alarm contractor, consulting engineer, and/or certifier, requesting an options paper report of the choices about how to improve the performance of the fire alarm system.

Maintenance is always the obvious area that can be addressed. A comprehensive maintenance program involves every part of the fire alarm system's operating equipment and interacting environmental factors that affect that equipment. It starts with extensive discussions with the engineer/architect and fire alarm specialists to agree that the installed prescribed fire alarm system is of an adequate design standard in consideration of the total environment impacting factors.

It is essential that a fully programmed building specific maintenance plan be documented. This involves business decisions to ensure the practical viability of the proposal. In some cases, the evaluation may identify that a total upgrade to a much more effective system is warranted.

Often detectors are not replaced or tested as per Australian Standard 1851, in a planned way, and this may result in a manager not knowing which detectors have been replaced in the last couple of years. This is often very ineffective, particularly if the replacement plan has not included an upgrade to higher quality detectors.

The sensitivity of detectors alters over time and environmental exposure. The older the detector the greater the chance of a systems fault occurring.

MFS staff often report that a faulty detector was attributed to the cause of the unwanted alarm. Careful consideration of the particular type of detectors being located in particular locations does greatly assist in reducing Unwanted Alarms. In many cases, this scenario could have avoided an unwanted alarm from occurring.

Maintenance on its own will not always be enough; some automatic fire alarm systems will need to be upgraded in order to adequately address unsatisfactory performance.

Maintenance also includes regular staff training, and a proactive company policy on how to educate clients and the public about living with fire alarm systems.

Q20. Has there been any demonstrated improvement in fire alarm system performance from buildings that have upgraded their fire alarm system; i.e. the upgrade has produced nil or minimal chargeable alarms?

The answer is yes. However, any building owner/occupier who does not adopt a holistic approach or seriously commit to reducing unwanted alarms may not quite achieve the desired result. MFS has numerous examples of significant improvements in automatic fire alarm performance where owner/occupiers have acted upon advice.

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Q21. What should an owner/occupier do to gain the co-operation of tenants and guests to ensure the number of unwanted alarms is minimised?

Firstly, the body corporate, owner/occupier should develop a policy of how any unwanted alarms are to be managed within the complex. This policy can be communicated with tenants and guests as they arrive, it can be displayed in their room, it can be presented on the in-house television guest-welcoming segment, in-house PA announcements can be made on a regular basis (particularly at strategic times of the day), security staff can intercept and advise people about their behaviours potential to cause an unwanted alarm.

Additionally, brochures in multiple languages depicting desired messages can be communicated.

Less unwanted alarms creates an opportunity for safe evacuations when a fire alarm activates for the right reasons, reducing the complacency amongst the community. Appropriate alarm activations can lead to lives saved, whereas inappropriate automatic fire alarm system activations can lead to significant loss of life.

It is generally accepted that it is important to avoid the loss of life due to improperly operating fire alarm systems. This includes ensuring that complacency does not cause any additional disasters.

Q22. Should building owner/occupiers forward the cost of a chargeable alarm to the holiday-maker who burnt their toast?

It is not the role of MFS to advocate to the body corporate or owner/occupier a particular policy approach. It seems appropriate and business-like to pre-emptively consider a policy position in the event of this scenario developing. The decision to forward MFS chargeable alarm accounts to a holiday-maker is a business choice of the body corporate or owner/occupier. MFS does not support that practice.

This policy can be communicated with guests as they arrive, it can be displayed in their room, it can be presented on the in-house television guest-welcoming segment, it can be presented on the in-house PA announcements on a regular basis (particularly at strategic times of the day), security staff, administrative staff, and cleaning staff can advise people about the potential of their behaviour or activities being likely to cause a unwanted alarm and attract a charge.

Any incorrect statements made to the holidaymaker that reflects negatively upon MFS as the organisation that caused the account to be sent to the holidaymaker, will be redressed firmly in an appropriate manner by MFS. Staff can assist greatly by clearly communicating MFS expectations to tenants and holidaymakers. Importantly, where MFS crews identify this scenario, communication of the facts to allay any concerns should be promoted while in attendance.

Q23. Can a building owner/occupier alter or change any prescribed fire alarm system equipment?

MFS has continuously recommended that owner/occupiers review the operation of the fire alarm system to ensure optimum results. The review may identify that certain changes or upgrade of the fire alarm system is recommended. MFS operational fire crews, are generally not equipped to provide off-the-cuff advice in respect to fire alarm system changes.

It is essential to remember that the prescribed fire alarm system has been installed in accordance with Local Authority/Certifier approval permits. Any proposed variation to the installed prescribed fire alarm system must be documented, and approval for any variations sought from the Local Authority/Certifier.

Formal approval is always required to ensure the integrity and purpose of the fire alarm system is maintained. Owner/occupiers are required to submit their proposed building variation to the Local Authority/Certifier, and request advice about those options or changes to the existing fire alarm system. The request must be forwarded in writing to MFS Community Safety and Resilience Department.

It is not the responsibility of MFS to nominate particular changes to a building's prescribed fire alarm system. It is the responsibility of the owner/occupier to propose any desired changes and present these to the Local Authority/Certifier for approval. It may be important for owner/occupiers to be informed that where special fire services are involved, some endorsement by MFS that the variation complies with required regulations may be required.

Q24. Who would need to know about any changes to a building fire alarm system?

The people who may need to know about any changes to a prescribed fire alarm system include: Local Authority; Building Certifier; Bodies Corporate; owner/occupiers; building managers, staff; fire alarm technicians; MFS; respective insurance companies; various tenants and occupants, and, where special fire services have been altered, the MFS Community Safety and Resilience Department.

Q25. Do all building fire alarm systems need to be monitored?

No, many fire alarm systems installed within buildings are local systems only and do not require monitoring. Section E of the National Construction Code of Australia lists buildings requiring monitoring. Special circumstances may apply to certain buildings.

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Q26. Can anyone other than MFS monitor my building fire alarm system?

Current building requirements in the National Construction Code of Australia Specification E2.2A clause 7 requires all buildings that must be monitored are monitored by the MFS.

Q27. How does a building owner/occupier request that the MFS account for unwanted fire alarms/charges be waived?

A building owner/occupier/manager may download the Application to Waive Automatic Fire Alarm Charge Form from the MFS website and request that the account is waived. The writer must outline the reasons why the MFS account should be cancelled. The Incident Records Officer will consider the request and if satisfied that the reasons of the request are valid, waive the account.

Q28. Are MFS personnel required to reset/isolate the fire alarm panel while attending building fire alarm activations?

No. MFS Fire Officers will attempt to reset the fire alarm panel. It is the responsibility of the owner/occupier to ensure that the status of the fire alarm panel is operationally ready at all times.

MFS personnel are willing to assist all sections of the community, and welcome the opportunity to assist building owner/occupiers wherever possible. While attending fire alarm activations MFS staff have observed the following:

  • On some occasions on-site managers are not in attendance to reset the fire alarm panel
  • On-site building representative staff do not always possess adequate knowledge about how to reset the fire alarm panel
  • MFS staff recognise the benefit of having a fire alarm system operational rather than the fire alarm system not being operational
  • MFS staff often reset the fire alarm system in the interest of building and occupant safety
  • MFS staff, by their nature, seek to assist people wherever possible, and also desire to build positive relationships with all sections of the community in order to achieve outcomes that benefit all.

Q29. As the owner/occupier of a fire alarm system can I telephone MFS and tell them not to send the fire appliance because it's an unwanted alarm?

MFS staff appreciate a telephone call from the subject-building manager to the MFS communication centre with advice about the status of events associated with the fire alarm activation. MFS communication centre can then forward this updated information to the responding fire crew while they are en route. Information about the status of the emergency at the subject building allows the officer to more efficiently manage the mobilisation of resources dependent upon the specifics of the information received.

Responding MFS crew are obligated to continue to the scene and investigate the reason for the alarm activation. This is due to the potential for maliciousness intended to delay MFS attendance, and the potential for incorrect assessment of the situation by the local manager.

Q30. Does the MFS charge for chargeable fire alarms because it is seeking increased revenue?

No. The MFS attends more than 8,000 unwanted fire alarms throughout South Australia in a 12-month period. The MFS commenced charging for attendance at unwanted alarms due to the number of times MFS attended buildings where it was clear that fire alarm systems were not being maintained.

The MFS is providing information to assist owner/occupiers to reduce their potential chargeable alarm costs. It is safer and more cost effective for all parties that the MFS does not have to attend unwanted alarms.

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Q31. Why do I pay for chargeable alarms when I already pay an ESL?

All property owners within South Australia contribute funds via the Emergency Services Levy (ESL). The purpose of the ESL is to provide emergency services to the people of South Australia. The structured fees are based on a historically based expectation of the level of demand, i.e. if a particular type of property (due to its particular risk factors) were to become involved in fire, then that property would demand a level of MFS resources to be responded to that complex in order to manage the incident.

The dollar amount levied upon individual properties is based on size and type of property use. Clearly, where greater levels of risk demand greater levels of MFS resources, then a proportional ESL fee is set. These fee structures are provided in legislation.

Q32. What is a MFS officer looking to achieve while investigating a fire alarm activation?

The MFS Officer in charge of the attending operational fire-fighting crew is authorised to act on behalf of the MFS Chief Officer and ensure that the authority vested via the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005 is effected. The MFS Officer will progressively investigate the matter and seek evidence of the cause of the call-out. The main aim of fire fighting crews responding is to establish the nature of the emergency and, if there is an emergency to save life and property.

Q33. Does the MFS provide any information about the cause of the fire alarm activation?

The MFS Officer will seek evidence of the cause of the automatic fire alarm activation. This investigation will involve attending the building fire alarm panel to confirm the location of the area, from which the call originated, and then inspect the actual location to confirm that people and property are safe. While at the point of origin of the call, the MFS Officer will seek evidence of the reason for the alarm activation. This investigation will be through observation of available evidence, and by interviewing people in attendance to determine the cause of the activation.

The MFS Officer will discuss with the building owner/occupier's on-site representative, the reason for the alarm activation. The MFS Officer will also complete the record of attendance in the fire alarm panel.

The attending MFS Officer will advise MFS Communications Centre who complete an electronic report of the automatic fire alarm activation. This report refers to the available evidence that appears to be the cause of the activation.

Q34. What is the responsibility of the owner/occupier when the fire alarm operates: (1) In relation to building occupants; & (2) the fire alarm panel?

The responsibility of the owner/occupier is to ensure that pre-planned emergency response procedures are enacted. The prime function of these emergency response evacuation procedures is to ensure the safe evacuation of the people in the complex.

The activation of an automatic fire alarm system will involve the person designated on the evacuation plan quickly attending the fire alarm panel to determine the location of the fire alarm activation, ensuring no interference with the fire alarm panel until MFS are on site. Further, the designated building warden closest to the indicated location of the fire will investigate the cause, and report to the building Chief Warden (individual Building Warden roles and functions may vary).

Each building manager has a responsibility to develop evacuation plans that encompass the duties involved in the required roles and functions designated per Australian Standards, Building Fire Safety Regulations, and Schedule 5 of the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005.

These evacuation plans should be communicated, displayed, and practiced on a regular basis. Australian Standards specifies these requirements.

A duty of care for the people within a complex is expected of the owner/occupier. Regular staff training in the roles and function of the designated roles and functions required to effectively conduct a building evacuation in an emergency is required by Australian Standards.

Some buildings require formal written evacuation plans, others do not. It is highly recommended that all owner/occupiers develop and implement evacuation plan procedures that can be exercised in the event of a range of emergencies.

Q35. Who should a building owner/occupier consult about improving the performance of a fire alarm system?

The first point of contact would be the fire alarm contractor who regularly provides fire alarm system maintenance. Industry publications can indicate other suppliers who can provide advice.

Note: In general, attending operational firefighters do not have the necessary technical knowledge to discuss any changes to an installed automatic fire alarm systems or its related components. All questions associated with that topic must be referred to the MFS Community Safety and Resilience Department.

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Q36. Who can approve the changes made to a fire alarm system?

There are a range of people who may need to be advised about or approve changes to your fire alarm systems. Your fire alarm contractor will be able to outline the process to you.

Q37. Can I make changes to the fire alarm system?

Changes can be made to a prescribed automatic fire alarm system, however any changes must be in accordance with relevant legislation. It is highly recommended that in order to avoid unnecessary angst, relevant industry consultants are engaged to provide key advice in order to ensure compliance.

The people who may need to know or be consulted about any changes to a prescribed fire alarm system include: Local Authority; Building Certifier; Bodies Corporate; owner/occupiers; building managers, staff; fire alarm contractor; attending fire officers; respective insurance companies; various tenants and occupants, and, where special fire services have been altered, the MFS Community Safety and Resilience Department. It will depend upon exactly what changes are to be made as to whom will be required to approve proposed variations. Generally, it will be the Local Authority and/or Private Certifier who can approve proposed changes after advice from MFS Built Environment Section Officers.

Q38.  Isn't a smoke detector that operates as a result of sensing burnt toast just doing its job as designed?

The role of a smoke detector is certainly to recognise the incipient stages of a fire in order to give early warning of an emergency. In those terms, it is recognised that the smoke detector has 'done its job'.

However Australian Standards/ The National Construction Code of Australia require buildings must be designed with systems installed that are "fit for the purpose" of that building. This means that you should be able to cook toast without activation of the fire alarm system.

Fire alarm systems are required by the National Constriction Code of Australia, or in older buildings the legislation at the time, and are installed to:

  • provide early warning of fire to the occupants
  • allow safe and early evacuation from the building
  • protect occupants from illness or injury
  • protect occupants from smoke inhalation or fire
  • provide MFS with early notification of, and allow early response to, a fire in a building
  • reduce loss of life
  • reduce property damage
  • reduce the amount of business lost
  • minimise risk to the public who attend unfamiliar properties
  • act as a duty of care in the interest of the public
  • reduce damage to the environment.

Q39. What information do I need to supply in my "Application to Waive Automatic Fire Alarm Charge"?

If you believe that you have been charged for an unwanted alarm that is unfair or beyond your control, you can apply to the MFS for consideration of a waiver of the unwanted alarm charge.

To do this you must:

  • Download and complete the Application to waive automatic fire alarm charge form from the MFS website.
  • Lodge the Application to waive automatic fire alarm charge within 30 days of invoice date
  • Ensure the explanation for Request To Waive Automatic Fire Alarm Charge  details the justification for the waiving and what has been done to ensure that unwanted alarms will not re-occur. Use an additional sheet if required.
  • Attach a copy of the MFS invoice/s and evidence of the actions taken to remedy further unwanted alarms (e.g. Invoice from alarm maintenance company).
  • Forward all documentation to the MFS address that appears at the top of the waiver form.

The Application will be assessed and you will be contacted with the MFS decision in writing.

Q40. What are the fees for fire service attendance to for an unwanted alarm?

The schedule of fees is available in the SA Government Gazette. Please see Schedule 17 in the regulations for the MFS cost detail.  Click here  to download the fees for 2017-18.

Note the fees listed in the SA Government Gazette do not include GST which must be added.

Q41. The fees schedule in the SA Government Gazette refers to attendance charges being determined by risk classifications. What does this mean?

MFS operating procedures specify a level of response (numbers of appliances) to buildings according to their size, use and risk to life if involved in fire. There are 3 major risk categories: "A, B & C" risks. A descriptor of these classifications is in the table below.

Risk Categories

PROPERTY

A

  1. All areas or individual buildings, four floors and above.
  2. Oil and gas refineries and installations.
  3. Special target risks involving very high hazard industrial, commercial or life risks.

Note:  Operational Officers with the pre-plan responsibility shall determine these risks in conjunction with the Senior Communications Officer.

B

  1. Industrial buildings and complexes not specified in Category A3.
  2. Large shopping and commercial centres and supermarkets.
  3. Health Care Facilities, other than in Category A1.
  4. Public buildings, grandstands, hotels, cinemas.

C

  1. Residential Buildings.
  2. Small shopping and commercial buildings.
  3. Small industrial or public buildings in isolation up to 150 square metres.
  4. Brush fence fires.
 

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