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  • Automatic Alarms

    How often does your department respond on an automatic alarm and arrive to find actual fire? In my small department, the vast majority of our automatic alarms are malfunctions.

  • #2
    Originally posted by deliverypenguin View Post
    How often does your department respond on an automatic alarm and arrive to find actual fire? In my small department, the vast majority of our automatic alarms are malfunctions.
    Same here, and would think that is the case in most areas. Three most often issues, construction work, burnt food, and pulled alarms. Unfortunately you have to approach each one as if it was for real, because one day it could be (has happened here, never seen so many guys try to strap on SCBA at the last minute).

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    • #3
      Every time.
      Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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      • #4
        once in 20 plus years.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by mcwops View Post
          Same here, and would think that is the case in most areas. Three most often issues, construction work, burnt food, and pulled alarms. Unfortunately you have to approach each one as if it was for real, because one day it could be (has happened here, never seen so many guys try to strap on SCBA at the last minute).
          Burned food is NOT a "malfunction".Nor is it anything to be taken Lightly. A good number of SERIOUS fire have started out as burned food/stove fires. We average about 1 in 3. T.C.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Rescue101 View Post
            Burned food is NOT a "malfunction".Nor is it anything to be taken Lightly. A good number of SERIOUS fire have started out as burned food/stove fires. We average about 1 in 3. T.C.
            We have a home for the mentally disabled in our community. A large number of our auto alarms are calls for burnt popcorn in the microwave, which sets off the detector head in the kitchen. The only burnt food fire we have had at that location that I have seen was one of the residents placed a tube of biscuits in the microwave, which did start a small, short lived fire.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by mcwops View Post
              The only burnt food fire we have had at that location that I have seen was one of the residents placed a tube of biscuits in the microwave, which did start a small, short lived fire.
              And would have been highly entertaining to watch on surveillance video! "sssssssSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS POP!"
              “I am more than just a serious basketball fan. I am a life-long addict. I was addicted from birth, in fact, because I was born in Kentucky.”
              ― Hunter S. Thompson

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              • #8
                While they're not as common as unintentional activations, I can think of handful of actual fires fairly quickly. At least three were held by sprinklers, another was in a boat building plant and the upside down hull shedded water (as designed) and had a decent size fire.

                As TC noted, many alarms are not false, but in fact proper activation of the system for situations less than full blow fires. Burned popcorn creates smoke which activates smoke detectors, not a system failure. Pulled alarms are not false, they're human error/mischief/crime, but again the system worked properly.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mcwops View Post
                  We have a home for the mentally disabled in our community. A large number of our auto alarms are calls for burnt popcorn in the microwave, which sets off the detector head in the kitchen. The only burnt food fire we have had at that location that I have seen was one of the residents placed a tube of biscuits in the microwave, which did start a small, short lived fire.
                  You've got no corner there. Our first due has several such facilities.How about a dryer on fire(GLASS FRONT DOOR)in a Nursing home? That was an interesting few minutes. You should have seen the wheelchair races down the hall once the Residents figured out it was a REAL fire. T.C.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Rescue101 View Post
                    You've got no corner there. Our first due has several such facilities.How about a dryer on fire(GLASS FRONT DOOR)in a Nursing home? That was an interesting few minutes. You should have seen the wheelchair races down the hall once the Residents figured out it was a REAL fire. T.C.
                    Believe me, we know, as we have had automatic alarms that were the real deal. We do our best (which is difficult) to keep from getting complacent on such calls.

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                    • #11
                      I have been collecting data encompassing about 25 years in 3 surburban and 1 surburban/primarily rural department regarding fire alarm response. I started very early in my career wondering why most departments handle it the way we do, so I started collecting this data very early on.

                      The data covers two departments in VT wuith populations of 12-16K, including one department with a meduim sized collge campus, multiple hotels and multiple large retail and muit-storied alarmed office buildings, a surburban department in NY with significant auto-mutual aid responsibilities to alarmed retail and commercial occupancies, and a departmernt in LA with extremly limited alarmed-properties.

                      The data now includes about 3500-4000 alarm calls. I wish I could be more precise but my data is at home and I am at the National Fire Academy.

                      The data shows that in those alarm responses, there has been a fire less than 1% of the time. The vast majority of those fires were either extinguished by occupants, self-extinguished or extinguished by a sprinkler system prior to FD arrival.

                      In only 7 case, or less than .1% of the responses, there was a working fire on arrival.
                      Last edited by LaFireEducator; 08-19-2010, 04:07 PM.
                      Train to fight the fires you fight.

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                      • #12
                        About a month ago. Sent out for a residential fire alarm and the first in company reported fire coming from the rear of the house. Doesn't happen often but it does happen. That's why you need to bring your " A" game all the time. The building is on fire until we determine otherwise.

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                        • #13
                          A high percentage are from fires in a structure. Such as burnt food, trash can fire, or something burning. A smaller but still significant portion turn out to be fires requiring a hand line.

                          We get a lot of false alarms from telephone and radio reported alarms, so I don't see why people get their panties in a twist about how we handle automatic alarms.

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                          • #14
                            You have to treat every automatic alarm as a working fire until you get a call back saying it is a false alarm. Then if your protocal says to you reduce the number of units and the response become non-emergency.

                            Honestly, if the fire department treats these alarms as nothing soon the building occupants will too and then the one time it is really something it will be a complete cluster.
                            Crazy, but that's how it goes
                            Millions of people living as foes
                            Maybe it's not too late
                            To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by LaFireEducator View Post
                              I have been collecting data encompassing about 25 years in 3 surburban and 1 surburban/primarily rural department regarding fire alarm response. I started very early in my career wondering why most departments handle it the way we do, so I started collecting this data very early on.

                              The data covers two departments in VT wuith populations of 12-16K, including one department with a meduim sized collge campus, multiple hotels and multiple large retail and muit-storied alarmed office buildings, a surburban department in NY with significant auto-mutual aid responsibilities to alarmed retail and commercial occupancies, and a departmernt in LA with extremly limited alarmed-properties.

                              The data now includes about 3500-4000 alarm calls. I wish I could be more precise but my data is at home and I am at the National Fire Academy.

                              The data shows that in those alarm responses, there has been a fire less than 1% of the time. The vast majority of those fires were either extinguished by occupants, self-extinguished or extinguished by a sprinkler system prior to FD arrival.

                              In only 7 case, or less than .1% of the responses, there was a working fire on arrival.
                              the more legitimate stat is how many responses would have been working fires without the alarm system.

                              You dont need a "working fire" to make some roundabout point....Ive been to plenty of alarms that would have been fires had we not responded when we did. Your stat is meaningless.
                              Proud East Coast Traditionalist.

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