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Do you fine for repeat alarm malfunctions or place buildings on firewatch?

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  • Do you fine for repeat alarm malfunctions or place buildings on firewatch?

    Does anybody out there fine for repeat alarm malfunctions? And do you place any of your buildings on firewatch? By firewatch, I mean any automatic alarms are ignored until the alarm system is repaired. How do you document placing somebody on firewatch? Our fire marshall currently fines 25 bucks after the 3rd alarm malfunction ( in a 12 month period) in our city. Of course, like other departments, our first alarm response apparatus is worth well over 1.5 million dollars, let alone the manpower. Any info would be appreciated!

  • #2
    I wish we would fine, but the city fathers have decided against it for now. Just this week we had two alarms during the early morning hours for two days in a row at the same place.
    As for fire watch, sometimes when we do have multiple alarms and there appears to be a definite malfunction, we do put the alarm out of service. If the alarm is out of service at a school or nursing home, we station someone there until it is repaired.

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    • #3
      We fine anything after 3 false alarms in a 24 hour period. 4 alarms and up is 25 clams per run. Our state FM requires a firewatch on any nusing/hospital facility if the alarm system is down, 15 bucks an hour.
      Craig Walker

      Union Strong...Union Proud

      An Irishman is the only person in the world who would walk over 12 naked women to get to a bottle of Stout.

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      • #4
        My Dept gives 2 "freebies". The 3rd false alarm (in a 12 mo period)caused by a MALFUNCTION IN THE SYSTEM results in a $250 fine. Subsequent alarms are $500. This can be difficult to track. The CO officer must properly document the cause. We tend to think that if there is no fire, it's a false alarm, but an alarm caused by a smoking ballast is not a "false alarm"-the system functioned correctly. We also allow for false alarms due to electrical problems or weather.
        We implemented this because we were responding to the same businesses repeatedly just because they were too cheap to have the alarm fixed.
        We also recently changed our response policy for automatic alarms. We send the full first alarm assignment, but only the first due company responds in emergency mode. It's cut way back on accidents and frustration for all of us. I think it was a great move. The longer I'm in this job, the less often I feel the need to turn on the lights.

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        • #5
          we have an ordinance here that fines after so many alarms...however it provides no penalties if they refuse to pay...so they don't. We have people who owe us well over $50,000 for false alarms that we can't collect.

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          • #6
            We fine after 3 alarms in a years time. $350 for the fourth and $150 for each additional. We have never had to bil for the $150 because after Home/Business owner gets the $350 charge the alarm usually gets fixed. In some cases home/business owners bill the alarm company for the money especially if it is equipment problems and the alarm company has been aware of the problem, documentation is the key.

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            • #7
              Wow. fining for problems with a system the FD required the building owner to have in the first place? Perhaps fining for not maintaining the system, or something, but simply because you had to get out of bed?

              I feel that is so wrong, we're not like the cops. They are responding to devices the owner put in for their own peace of mind.

              All that said, when there is an alarm that is obviously not working we tell the owner to put the alarm into a dleay mode of some type with their monitoring co, and tell them they need to investigate the future alarms coming from the malfunctioning device until a reapir person can fix the problem. Doesn't happen often though.

              No fines here!

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              • #8
                ffguy-

                I hear your point, but unless there's some mechanism to encourage business/homeowners to fix the problem...money will always talk.

                Last summer a new strip mall with a supermarket openend. I can count at least 4 false alarms at the pet store, and over six at the grocery store in about 6 weeks.

                Ever hear of "the boy who cried wolf"? True...every call should be treated like it's the real deal, but the last call I remember only had two volunteer responders (plus the two full timers on shift). Not enough to fight a fire if there was one.

                I feel fines are necessary if they are carried through and significant (at least $100...whether the business/homeowner charges the alarm company is up to them) These places need to be held accountable for the expense to the department, and particularly the effort of unpaid firefighters with families, who work full time...and have to roll out of bed at 3am to respond to B.S. calls
                We're all in this together. FDNY 9-11-01

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                • #9
                  Our Dept. currently does not fine for False Alarms, but we are in the process of divising a fair system to take to the City. As soon as the mayor is kicked out we plan on presenting it. We constantly go to the same buildings and they never fix the problems. In a weeks time, we went to the same building five times. We asked them to call their company to fix the problem, but they wouldn't do it because of the cost. We continue to go to these businesses as if it were a fire, and I feel that their petty, cheapness may get some one injured or killed. We have to start letting these businesses know that they are going to be held responsible for their actions, or in this case there inablity to act. They are putting undue wear and tear on equipment, and they should be penalized for this.

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                  • #10
                    We don't fine. If we have an obvious malfunction we turn the system off and report it to the Fire Prevention guys and tell the buliding manager to get it fixed the next day. They can be fined if it is not repaired. But, if the systen resets normally then we will keep responding. This is done because if the system resets normally it was probably the occupants who made the thing go off. Are you going to fine the occupants for burning the steak on the stove and causing a false alarm? No! Are our run volumes enough to worry about the BS false alarm at 3am? Probably not. Hell, most of the runs are false anyway. Give me the false alarms over no calls anyday.

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                    • #11
                      We always strongly encourage maintenance of the alarm systems and if there is a malfunction we make sure repairs are being made. If the system goes off due to the same malfunction twice in a short time we leave the system in trouble mode (which will leave all other areas functional) and have the business mgr post a fire watch in the uncovered area. We use a form the mgr has to sign, it explains responsibilities and gives instructions on how to react in certain situations.
                      Concerning fines, our City is currently looking into the matter but seems to be very reluctant to implement a fine.

                      Mike

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                      • #12
                        We don't have any method by which a fine is levied after a certain number of false alarms. If the fire station notices that they are running the same place for unwarranted alarms and it appears to be a maintenance problem, they contact my office and we issue the owner an order to have the system completely checked and repaired by a licensed electrical contractor and provide our office with the documentation that such repairs were completed. If that still doesn't fix the problem (and we have one system that looks like it falls into that category) we are considering ordering the owner to replace the system. However, given the high cost of system replacement, it would only be a viable option in the rarest of cases. As PIERCERULES pointed out, documentation is critical. You need to get the FF's that are responding in the middle of the night to take the time to determine the cause for initiation of the alarm and document it - if they just go to the Control Panel and attempt reset without investigating the cause of the alarm, it's really difficult to determine where the trouble in the system is.
                        An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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                        • #13
                          We just sent a $900 bill to one business for a series of 7 false alarms in less than a month. The first two are free, the third is $300 and each one after that is $150. This only concerns false alarms due to system malfunction, not cooking smoke or power loss, ect. The State of Texas recently enacted a law which make bills from fire depts for false alarms legally binding. This means that they either pay or go to court.

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                          • #14
                            Speaking strictly as someone from a company that, as a result of being added to the run cards of one nearby company, has seen BS AFA responses rise by more than 400% to more than 50% of total call volume in one year (most of which comes from a single elderly high-rise), I'd like to start the fine at $500,000 for the third false alarm and progress geometrically from there.

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                            • #15
                              I wish we would fine, but unfortunately even if the Fire Marshall bothered, the money would not go to us, but to the Township. We have an apartment complex in our local that gives us false alarms at least 25 times a year (out of 300-400 runs total). They never fix the alarm, and sometimes we go out two or three times a night to it. As far as fire watch, if the alarm has malfunctioned, we alert dispatch to disregard the alarm until it is fixed, and to notify us only if there is a waterflow detected in the system.
                              IAFF
                              PFANJ

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