St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is one of the largest single-site hospitals in the UK.

Due to the size of our site the trust has chosen to operate under an automatic fire system which triggers an immediate call to the fire brigade when an alarm is activated.

Recent press reported that this automatic system has resulted in the St George’s Tooting site having a high number of unwanted fire signals passed to the fire brigade in 2014.

We are currently embarking on a 4-million pound, three year programme to update all 5,500 fire sensors across the site but acknowledge that action needs to be taken now to reduce these false fire alarms which cost money, waste time and increase community risk.

We have been working in partnership with the London Fire Brigade as to the best way to reduce this burden on their resources and yet ensure that safety is the priority.

With this in mind we have implemented an interim plan to manage the fire alerts differently between 8am-8pm. During this time we have a maximum number of staff on-duty and therefore have the capacity to investigate automatic alarms in order to assess whether fire brigade assistance is required.

As of this month St George’s has begun retraining staff to investigate automatic fire alarms that come through to the central switchboard. They will then be able to alert the fire brigade if it is considered necessary.

Joint Director of Estates and Facilities at St George’s Trust and University, Eric Munro said: “We hope that this will decrease the number of false fire alarms at St George’s. We continue to work with the London Fire Brigade and Fire Industry Association to reduce the incidence of false alarms on our site.”

London Fire Brigade assistant Commissioner, Neil Orbell (Fire Safety Regulation) said: “We are pleased to see that St George’s are taking positive steps to reduce the number of unwanted false alarms at their building.

“Firefighters are called to over 37,000 false alarms every year and some hospitals we go to nearly every week.

“We want to work with hospitals on this issue which is why we will wait until the tenth call before we start to recover our costs. We also work with them to see how they can improve the maintenance and management of their automatic fire alarm systems.”