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  • Should fire companies use lights and Sirens for alarm systems and other nuisance call

    I was just wondering if any departments out their run nuisance calls without lights or sirens. I know a company around me does and I was wondering if any other company does it.

  • #2
    All calls are rolled hot. We only run cold if we are called down by an officer on scene who advises that it is indeed a false alarm. Even if dispatch calls us off we continue hot. We never turn back until we say so. It would not be unheard of for an arsonist to call in a sounding alarm as false, pretending to be the owner.

    Even nuisance locations are rolled hot. You never know if this is the real one. Besides thats what nuisance fines are for.

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    • #3
      The 'rule of thumb' up here in our district is:
      If you know it's an emergency, then you run the call hot.
      If you know there is NO emergency, then you run the call cold.
      If we don't know what the call is, then we assume the worst has occurred, and run the call hot. Then the first due in reports and either speeds us all up, or slows us all down.
      If by 'nuisance' calls, you are referring to for example: automatic alarm malfunctions in senior citizens housing at 0300? Or constant false pull stations calls to the local junior high school at exam time? Either way, each situation has it's own set of rules and solutions to problems. The bottom line is that unless we have a truck already there when the call comes in, we will run the call hot UNTIL WE ARE SURE it is cold. Better safe then sorry. At least thats what the lawyers say.

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      • #4
        Automatic alarm - dispatch requests alarm co. to call customer and ask. If they get an answer, and the person on scene has the "password" for the alarm, then we'd slow down all but one engine. If it's an arsonist, (hopefully) they won't know the password to the alarm co.

        Of course, most of the time it's either a remodel contractor who set the smoke detector off with dust or fumes (and he doesn't have the code, of course) or no one's home, so we'd all come in hot expecting a structure, and end up w/a smells and bells.

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        • #5
          all calls here at the dept in my town are rolled hot even automatic alarms the only calls that are rolled cold are tree limbs down on power line, the public sees the catch fire and aoutmatically thinks call the fd but we cant do anything about it so we roll those cold and the only other call we run cold is if there is an elderly person that keeps haveing some kind of small emergency like a little fall and we go there two or three time a week but most of the time we even roll those hot.
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          • #6
            Just had a fire the other day that started out as an alarm. We do have reduced response to alarm runs figuring an alarm gives us early warning so even if it is a fire, it should be smaller than 'normal', and we send an Eng and Truck so there are enough people to get started.

            If you're not going to send everyone red lights and sirens, then don't send them.

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            • #7
              Yeah I am in this company right now and they run everything with lights and sirens but in a month I am going to this neighboring department who runs the alarm systems and stuff like that on reduced speed. I always thought you never know if it is going to be a real fire or not.

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              • #8
                what we do is the first in engine runs hot and the batt. cheif everyting else runs cold until told other wise.
                only on alarms that are automatic but under officers discreation
                2197 stay safe and have fun
                2197 10-8<br />stay safe have fun stay healthy<br />
                nc firefighter/emt-d
                RFB-FTM

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                • #9
                  We run alarms nonemergency. Idea being there is greater risk running at an emergency rate and being in an accident than there is the chance of a fire at the location. Another reason, if there is a fire, we're more likely to get additional calls reporting so. Also, more often than not the police are on scene before us to give an update. I can understand running hot all the time in major cities with high crime rates, but we dont have a major crime problem.

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                  • #10
                    Tw93 -

                    I know the company of which you speak...

                    At the risk of stepping on people's toes (this is only my opinion), all calls which might result in you arriving with smoke blowing out a window should be run hot.

                    There is simply no way to tell on dispatch whether or not it's a nuisance alarm or the real deal. We know that 99% of the time, it's nothing...but how do you explain that to the homeowner, or the mother of the child trapped on the second floor?

                    Better to go hot, and operate quickly yet safely, with all warning devices on, than to lollygag over there only to find a fire. Now, when the county calls back and says, "Homeowner (or alarm company) called and said no problem", then it's OK to shut everything down, roll in cool, and take a report.

                    But I fail to see the purpose of NOT running hot when you have no idea what you might be facing...that 1% will get you every time.

                    Good luck at 29s, by the way!
                    "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

                    Joe Black

                    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

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                    • #11
                      We know that 99% of the time, it's nothing

                      And that is called experience. And even when it's something, 3/4 of the time it's a minor something.
                      ---------
                      My department only runs a few calls "cold" -- namely CO alarms w/o medical symptoms. Apparatus hold in quarters for trees & wires unless no officer is on the air, and respond cold at the officer's direction if needed.

                      Internal alarms (and others) are run hot, and 1st arriving officer will back off apparatus as needed -- typically reduce 1st couple pieces to cold and hold everything else in quarters.

                      My humble opinion, there could be a lot more.
                      ----------
                      There are two reasons to run lights --
                      - Right-of-Way lights & siren response to get traffic out of your way.
                      - Lights to warn when you're actually just another road hazard.

                      Most calls are not serious enough to warrant Red Lights & Siren -- the time savings, if any, won't affect the outcome. So there not worth the risk.

                      ---------
                      Some calls I'd like to see run either cold, or 1st due only hot:

                      And please remember, this doesn't mean dilly dally. Doesn't neccessarily mean don't gear up. Doesn't mean finish eating your dinner then walk to the truck. Just means drive with the flow of traffic unless that actually means a huge delay:

                      -- Internal fire alarms w/o confirming phone call (of an actual fire). (1st hot)
                      -- Chimney fires w/ no reported extension (1st hot).
                      -- CO w/o medical symptoms
                      -- Trees & Wires
                      -- Brush Fires (1st hot...depending on local situation, maybe more. My town, 1st only is fine)
                      -- Medical calls w/o Respiratory issues, w/o cardiac issues, w/o serious bleeding, w/o significant risk of serious trauma, or otherwise not needing ALS
                      -- Stove & Appliance fires (1st hot)
                      -- Tankers in shuttle (lights only as a road hazard). If you need too, get another tanker in the shuttle so they don't need to speed.
                      -- Any standby, move-up, or cover assignment

                      Sorry folks, we use lights & sirens way too much. It's not just us in the fire service -- if you've started the FD & Ambulance to an MVA to handle ems...is there really an emergency need for the cops to use lights & siren to write up a report and issue tickets afterwards? And most of the time in most of the situations, it doesn't do us any good -- situations same whether we get here now or 45 seconds ago.

                      -------
                      And yes, I know the downside. Somehow when we give the "83" (more or less our signal for a cold response), turnout ends up awful skinny. Yeah, I know it's exciting to run a call hot. That's a cultural thing in the fire service we gotta change -- just 'cause we don't need lights & sirens doesn't mean it's not an important call, something we do need to attend to right away.

                      Sometimes a little less adrenaline is a good thing.

                      Matt
                      (Fortunately Bucks, I have my steel-toed boots on But I think I better abdanon my nomex and get out a proximity suit now! )

                      [ 08-13-2001: Message edited by: Dalmatian90 ]
                      IACOJ Canine Officer
                      20/50

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                      • #12
                        All calls should be run hot by at least the first in pumper unless dispatch has contacted the alarm co. and they have talked to the keyholder.....we have had instances where a pumper goes to a "routine" 1070-1090 alarm and gets there with heavy smoke showing......
                        always run hot and always expect the worse
                        stay safe
                        Its not something you do,
                        Its something you are.
                        "Whether we bring the terrorists to justice, or we bring justice to the terroists...Justice WILL BE DONE"... President Bush
                        Engineer
                        Engine Co. # 1
                        THESE ARE JUST MY OPINIONS AND OPINIONS ONLY!!!

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                        • #13
                          We run the first-in engine lights and sirens, everything else runs normal traffic. If its buring, then everything else steps up their response.

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                          • #14
                            Dalmation90....why, I'm wounded by your suggestion!!!

                            Naaa, it's only opinion, and mine is that no matter how much "experience" you have or I have, we have not yet developed mental telepathy (although I've heard some weeeeird stuff about a phenomenon called "remote viewing"...Art Bell, anyone?).

                            So, since neither you or I *know* upon dispatch that the fire alarm system is not actually reporting...egad...a FIRE, then you're a better man than I if you could explain that to the homeowner, or the dead child's mom.

                            I do agree that some calls should be rolled cold - CO detector alarms with no medical symptoms, cover assignments, even some small brush fires with no exposures. But alarm systems? Nope. Until we get that psychic ability, I think it's risking too much for the sake of playing down our "wackerness". If there is any possibility that life or property is in danger, run it hot. You can always shut 'em off when you get more information.

                            See? No proximity suit necessary.
                            "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

                            Joe Black

                            The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              An alarm activation is a structure fire until proven otherwise, at minimum the first due company should be running "hot" with all other companies assigned to the alarm responding non- emergency.
                              As far as wires being down, our job is to protect life and property, so even though we can't fix the wires down problem, we can keep the general public out of harm's way.
                              As far as other "service calls".....OIC's discretion is the key.
                              JMD

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