False fire alarms are not only annoying, but they waste the time and resources for your local fire department.
The good news is there are ways to help limit these false alarms. While some false alarms may still happen, they’ll occur much less frequently.
Taking the time to do this can prevent costly fines and ensure when the alarm does sound, occupants take it seriously instead of thinking it’s just a false alarm.
Why Does It Matter
If you think it’s not that much of a problem, consider what happens if a legitimate fire alarm happens while your local firefighters are responding to your false one. Every time they respond to false fire alarms, they’re wasting valuable time and resources that could go to real emergencies.
In Ottawa alone, there were over 7,000 false fire alarms in 2017. Just over 4,000 were caused by equipment malfunction or accident, while the remainder was due to human error, such as purposely or accidentally pulling the alarm.
Move Fire Alarms
The Ontario Fire Code does allow you to move fire alarm boxes if they are being pulled or set off accidentally. For manual pull stations, section 18.104.22.168 states the station may be moved if there is a high incidence of false alarms.
You must make certain there are still safety precautions in place in the event of a fire.
If an alarm is being set off due to someone leaning against it or bumping it going back and forth, moving it to a better location can drastically reduce false fire alarms.
Uncover The Cause
Use security cameras to determine what is causing the false alarms. For instance, children may think it’s amusing to pull the alarm to avoid going to school. When you know what’s happening and even who is doing it, it’s much easier to develop a plan to prevent it.
If fire alarms are being pulled maliciously, even if someone just thinks it’s a joke, implement fines to prevent false fire alarms. Ensure everyone in the building knows about this policy.
Post this with your fire safety plan too so visitors are aware of it. Using security cameras helps you to identify the culprit(s) so you know who to fine.
Most people don’t want to have to pay a fine. You can even charge them the fines from the fire department along with your building’s fine.
Schedule Regular Maintenance
Poorly maintained, outdated and incorrectly installed fire alarms can all sound false alarms. It’s vital to schedule regular maintenance to check your systems before they become an issue.
If you’re dealing with regular false fire alarms, call in the alarm company to investigate. Equipment does malfunction, but it can be repaired. Everything from issues with the alarm itself to faulty wiring can all cause issues.
If you’ve recently gone through renovations and are experiencing an increase in false alarms, have your system and wiring checked to ensure there aren’t any issues as a result of the renovations.
Establish A Fire Warden
Ask for volunteers or designate one or more people per floor as a fire warden to help monitor the fire alarms. It is there responsibility to keep a check on the alarms and to watch for anyone who may be attempting to pull the alarm.
They can also identify if someone did it maliciously or accidentally. If it’s an accident often, this is a good indicator the alarm should be moved. Ideally, you’ll want someone who is already near the alarm, such as someone with an office or room across from or beside the alarm.
Keep Sensors Away From Triggers
False fire alarms can go off if sensors are not installed in the right place. Smoke detectors should always be installed away from vents and heat/smoke sources, such as not having one installed directly above an oven.
If someone is moving the smoke detectors around, use security cameras or your designated fire warden to determine who is doing this. Fine them to prevent this from happening again.
Help limit false fire alarms with regular inspections and maintenance. See how All Protect Systems can help with annual and monthly inspections.
Image: Renee Gaudet