New guidelines for using toasters to reduce false fire alarms


NHS Tayside’s Fire Safety team has compiled a series of guidelines to reduce false fire alarms caused by using toasters.

There has been an increasing number of false alarms caused by burnt toast, mostly caused by wedging open the kitchen fire door which allows smoke to travel into the corridor and set off the smoke alarm.

A fire alarm system is a vital safety feature within any building; however it can also be the cause of Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals (UFAS).

A false alarm activation not only affects the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), but can also cause considerable disruption to patient diagnosis and treatment, staff working activity and to staff and student learning. There is also a cost implication to both NHS Tayside and the SFRS.

The Take 5 campaign aims to significantly reduce fire alarm activations caused by human carelessness by changing how people go about their normal daily activity and considering the wider impact of their actions.

As part of the initiative, the Fire Safety team is targeting hot spots where there have been a number of false alarms due to avoidable actions.

In order to reduce the numbers of false alarms caused by burnt toast, the Fire Safety team has compiled the following guidelines about the use of toasters. Managers are asked to make staff aware of these guidelines and ensure they are followed.

Due to the considerable disruption and cost implications of false alarms caused by the toasters, where the toaster guidelines have not been followed leading to the Fire Service having to attend, a report will be sent to the Head of Department concerned with the advice to remove the toaster from the area or ensure that more robust management procedures are put in place.


  • Toasters​ must only be used in a designated kitchens which are fitted with fire safety features including with a 30 minute fire resistant compartment with a self closing fire door and smoke seals. The room should include a heat detector as opposed to a smoke detector to avoid any Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals.
  • Any toasters not situated in a designated kitchen area should be removed. Do not use a toaster out with these designated areas.
  • Do not position the toaster under overhanging kitchen units.
  • Always store the toaster away from the sink or any liquids that could spill onto it.
  • When cooking or using the toaster, the fire door must be closed to ensure that smoke does not travel from the kitchen to the corridor where a smoke detector may be located and consequently operate the Fire Alarm. With the kitchen fire door closed, the heat detector will not activate for smoke only.
  • Fire doors must not be wedged open at any time – doing so will allow any fire to spread rapidly throughout the building and also cause Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals.
  • All toasters in NHS Tayside premises must be fitted with a thermostat so that the toast pops up when it is ready.
  • Please ensure all toasters are PAT tested.
  • A member of staff should be in attendance at all times when the toaster is in use.
  • Where the member of staff is required to leave the room the toaster must be switched off.
  • Use the toaster according to the manufacturer’s instructions – failure to do so could lead to severe electric shock.
  • Make sure you clean out the crumb tray frequently. This will help keep your toaster working properly and reduce the fire hazard.
  • If you notice an odd smell or any sparking, unplug the toaster immediately.
  • If the toaster is cracked or damaged in any way, stop using it immediately.
  • When the toaster is turned off at the socket or unplugged, wipe the toaster down regularly, but never use water or any sort of cleaner inside it.
  • Always turn off the toaster at the socket when not in use.

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