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Unwanted fire alarms - the hidden social cost

Unwanted fire alarms represent a serious and often underestimated challenge for society. Not only do they entail large financial and resource costs, but also sets human life in danger. Accurate and reliable fire alarm systems are therefore essential, not only to save costs, but to save lives

The extent of the problem
In Norway, where fire safety is a growing concern, every year fires result in loss of lives and destruction of assets worth several billion kroner. According to The Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB), in 2022 a total of 2,978 fires in buildings were registered. This underlines the need for more effective fire safety systems, especially in light of the constant development within the building and construction sector.

Automatic fire alarm systems (ABA), which are directly connected to emergency control centres, are essential for early fire detection. But they carry a hidden cost: frequent unwanted alarms.

A serious challenge
In 2022, a shocking 60% of ABA missions were based on false or unwanted alarms, which equates to over 30,000 unwanted calls nationally. These include situations where smoke detectors are triggered by innocent causes such as cooking, showering, or dust. That the Fire department often becomes called back from calls that prove to be unnecessary, represents an enormous waste of time and resources.

Although such incidents are categorized as "unnecessary and false calls," it is critical to take each alert seriously, as at the start of the call it is not possible to distinguish real fires from unwanted alarms. In 2022, approximately 20% of real fire incidents in buildings were notified through ABA systems.

With danger to life and health
In places where people live close together and with the high frequency of fire alarms, we see unwanted alarms leading to a weakened trust in the fire safety systems. This is a significant problem because it can lead to hesitation or lack of response in the event of a real fire, and thus potentially increase the risk of injury and loss of lives. In situations where every second counts, this hesitation can be the difference between life and death.

The social costs
The social costs of unwanted fire alarms are significant. Every unnecessary call out wastes valuable resources that could be used in real emergencies, potentially delaying the response in critical moments and increasing the risk of loss of human life and material assets. Economically, these callouts represent a great burden, considering the time and resources used.

Another significant consequence is the decline in trust in fire safety systems in densely populated areas. Impaired trust can lead to slow or no reaction in real fires, and as such increase the risk of serious injury and loss of lives. The problem of unwanted alarms is therefore not only a financial and logistical challenge, but also a critical security risk that requires immediate attention and solutions to ensure the safety of society and individuals.

An innovative solution: AutroGuard
Autronica's AutroGuard fire detection system presents an innovative solution to this problem. This system effectively differentiates between real fires and common causes of unwanted alarms, such as cooking, steam, and dust particles. Using advanced sensor technology and intelligent data analysis, AutroGuard analyzes the context around detected signals, rather than just reacting to smoke or heat. This significantly reduces the number of unwanted alarms, which increases the reliability of fire safety systems and reduces the societal costs associated with unnecessary calls.