Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) is empowered under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1990 s144 Charge for services to issue a charge for attendances at unwanted alarm activations.
Q. What is an unwanted alarm?
An unwanted alarm is defined as an emergency alarm signalled at a time when the Commissioner is satisfied there was no emergency requiring the attendance of the fire service.
Q. Why does QFES charge for attendance at unwanted alarms?
In recent years, QFES has responded to an increasing number of unwanted alarms. These unwanted alarms are generally a result of a fire alarm system either not performing to Australian Standards, or not being maintained to a performance standard thus preventing unnecessary fire alarm system activations. If a fire alarm system is designed, installed and maintained correctly it should be able to differentiate between a fire and normal activity in the building. Call-outs to unwanted alarms are having a significant impact on QFES resources.
QFES charges for attendance at unwanted alarm activations to encourage building owners/occupiers to be continually proactive in managing fire alarm systems, thus reducing unwanted alarm activations.
Under the conditions of the Alarm Monitoring Agreement the charge for attending unwanted alarm activations is made against the applicant for that Agreement. In the 2013-2014 financial year this charge is $1092.95.
It is important to note that the amount charged does not cover the actual costs incurred by QFES for attendance at any unwanted alarm activation. The charge recovers less than 25 percent of the estimated full cost of attending an unwanted alarm activation.
Q. What is the purpose of a ‘free’ unwanted alarm in a 60-day period?
The purpose of a free unwanted alarm recognises that sometimes accidents may happen. The free unwanted alarm provides the building’s owner/occupier with an opportunity to address the cause of the unwanted alarm (within a 60 day period) to ensure that no further unwanted alarms occur in the future.
Q. Should bodies corporate building owner/occupiers forward the cost of an unwanted alarm to the holiday-maker who burnt their toast?
Some bodies corporate or building owner/occupiers have in place a policy regarding unwanted alarm activations and subsequent payment of QFES attendance charge. Their policies may advocate the practice of asking a tenant, holidaymaker, or person causing false or malicious fire alarm activation to pay the QFES invoice – this is a practice called ‘on-billing’.
The decision to ‘on-bill’ is that of each building’s adopted management policy. It is not a decision made by QFES. The QFES does not endorse the passing on of these attendance charges to tenants unless they are engaging in reckless or negligent behavior. It is incorrect of the owner/occupier to attribute the ‘on-billing’ of an unwanted alarm account to QFES.
Last updated 11 July 2013