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  • Automatic False Alarms

    I am looking for opinions and feedback on Automatic Fire Alarms that are cancelled by an alarm company, assuming a proper code was given, prior to the arrival of any units. My question is what would your response be:

    1. Cancel all units and return to service
    2. Cancel all units except the first in truck or officer to check the alarm
    3. Proceed non-emergency
    4. Respond as normal until a fire unit arrives on scene and gives a size up

    Assume that your municipality "authorizes" (i.e. permits) you to cancel and return to service. This is in a volunteer setting by the way.

    Thanks for any thoughts.
    Thomas Anthony, PE
    Structures Specialist PA-TF1 & PA-ST1
    Paramedic / Rescue Tech North Huntington Twp EMS
    The artist formerly known as Captain 10-2

    No, I am not a water rescue technician, but I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night.

  • #2
    Here are some other threads on responding to alarms...

    discussion thread

    another thread


    We are cancelled by Fire Officers. Normal response, upon hearing no problem from PD via alarm company would be non-emergency response.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

    Comment


    • #3
      In my neck of the woods, once dispatch receives proper codes, we go in service. Occasionally if we are near the location, we will continue to investigate. By the way, fire alarms are run as non emergency responses unless dispatch receives additional information that indicates that a more serious incident is occuring.
      Chris Minick, P.E., Firefighter II
      Structures Specialist, MD-TF 1

      These statements are mine and mine alone
      I.A.C.O.J. Building crust and proud of it

      Comment


      • #4
        We send only one unit (response mode) to an automatic fire alarm. En route, we have dispatch call the occupancy to try to get more information. If there is no problem and even if proper codes are used, we continue the unit to determine the source of the false alarm. Without following up on the alarm and correcting the problem that caused the fasle call-you are subjecting yourself to repeated responses to the same building. We have discovered numerous faulty detectors, bad sensors, wrong codes in the sending units, and a variety of other "mechanical" failures. Our false alarms have been reduced considerably because of this program.

        Comment


        • #5
          4. You have to go in.

          I've been on AFA's that the caller states it is a false alarm and is a fire out situation and even a fire once.
          Perhaps my situation is unique but we go on AFA's that are fires all the time, so the report of a false alarm still keeps us planning for the worst situation.

          Comment


          • #6
            Code 1 Invesitgation the Pratical Answer

            There are 2 options for any AFA
            1. Full box response (code 3)
            2. Single apparatus (code 1)

            However many departments choose a combination of the 2 options that cause the following:
            1. Lack of proper resources for immediate interior action per NFPA 1500 and 1710/1720
            2. Endangers public and firefighters during code 3 response
            3. Puts the company officer in position to make a wrong decision by taking premature action prior to proper resources arriving

            I have worked over 16 years for a city that is over 70% commercial development. I have responded to over a thousand AFA's in my career resulting in ony 2 actual fires, which were small, confined, and being contained by the sprinkler systems. I am sure we have caused more vehicle accidents than that during our responses. The rewards of a code 3 response to this type of call (any AFA) do not justify the risks involved to firefighters and the community. The question remains, what are you going to do once you get there minutes before the next arriving equipment all bunked out and ready to go even if you have something? It puts the officer in a position, as stated earlier, to make bad decisions. This can be avoided by good judgement and responding code 1 to investigate all AFA's. It is the consistant answer, unless your department chooses to put a full box response on the call, which is not prudent or practical.
            Make your weaknesses your strengths

            Comment


            • #7
              we recently re wrote our SOG;s for thie as is follows ........ first unit code 3 (ligths and siren)the assignment continues to fill but all other appratus are code 2 (no lights or siren)............and are directed to cancel or go code 3 ......
              IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
              Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
              ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
              RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
              LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
              I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
              "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
              http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

              Comment


              • #8
                In Cambridgeshire UK as soon as our control room has tipped us out to a job we have to attend.

                Doesnt matter whether we get a call stating that its a false alarm, we still go. Attendance of 1 or 2 pumps determined by life risk.

                So far this year on my watch we have had 4 AFA's turn out to be fires.

                Safest thing all round is to proceed to the incident and collect the details, if its nothing then everyones safe. If it turns out to be a fire sure to be that management will want someones to front the blame whether wholetime, retained or voluntary.

                --------------------------

                Sitting here waiting for the Dolphins to bottle it again

                Comment


                • #9
                  IN MY CITY, WE CONTINUE THE FIRST DUE TRUCK OR ENGINE AND HAVE THEM INVESTIGATE. ALL OTHER UNITS CLEAR AND RETURN. YOU CAN NEVER TRUST AN ALARM COMPANY TO CANCEL FIRE EQUIPMENT.

                  JASONSFD LADDER 5
                  IAFF L2801

                  WOODEN LADDERS AND IRON MEN
                  JASONSFD LADDER 5
                  IAFF L2801 WOODEN LADDERS AND IRON MEN

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    my department treats all AFA as structure fires, until told otherwise by the first arriving FD unit. even if PD or the alarm company tells us to cancel, until an FD unit is on scene (either chief, engine, or company officer) and says otherwise, we always prepare for the worst.
                    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

                    FF/EMT/DBP

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Our town (part paid) runs all alarm systems as first in truck responds at emergency speed and the closest chief, BC, DC, etc. All other units will respond reduced speed unless additional information warrants otherwise.

                      There are the "usual" alarm systems where the senior officer may make the decision for the first in company to follow-up and make all other units available. Most other calls will get the standard response until the alarm is confirmed by the FD.

                      High occupancy buildings may keep the extra trucks coming since you never know when something will go wrong. It would really stink to find out that although someone gave a proper code, etc, that there was really a fire brewing, and only one truck showed up trying to save 150 people.

                      We just recently had an alarm system at a nursing home which turned out to be an activation from a fire on the roof due to roofers. The resources needed to evacuate all those loved ones shouldn't be postponed, as they were needed for that AFA.

                      Priorities:
                      1. ***Life Safety***
                      2. Property Conservation
                      3. Salvage & Overhaul

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        well what in the WIDE WIDE WORLD of Sports is emergency speed ?
                        IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
                        Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
                        ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
                        RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
                        LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
                        I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
                        "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
                        http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I recently posed this question to one of our senior officers. I refered him to a news story in which a engine arrived at an AFA and was told by the maintenance guy that there was no fire. I believe he told them a light had blown and set off the alarm. No FD personnel checked the situation and they were called back for a fire less than 1 hour later.

                          I felt that we should send a unit to check ALL AFA calls even if we are canceled by the homeowner or alarm company. We would just go non-emergency and make contact with the occupant to assess the situation. I don't know about you but I like to see things for myself unless I am being told by a FD member with experience to return.

                          The officer's response to me was that if the alarm company or occupant requests a cancel with a cause of food on the stove, steam, pulled box, etc. there is no reason to continue. He felt that we would look "pretty stupid" showing up on one of those. He then stated that if there was no reason for the alarm given, we should continue to verify. He cited the reason that many times people don't want a response and will say it is a malfunction without knowing for sure. Is my logic messed up or could people say it was food on the stove too just to get us to cancel??! I don't care about running lights and sirens to these so that's not why I want to continue. It's merely to assess a scene properly, ensure that life is not threatened, and do a good job.
                          Last edited by NYSmokey; 08-02-2003, 09:38 AM.
                          Tom

                          Never Forget 9-11-2001

                          Stay safe out there!

                          IACOJ Member

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            AFA

                            You are already on the street. If its a common alarm you already know the building, if not go available and continue to the scene and learn the building (FDC location,construction,occupancy, etc.)

                            E22 HCFR BShift

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              A hotel near me has trained their desk employees that when the alarm company calls to check on their alarm, they simply tell the company there was a malfunction and not to notify the FD. After hanging up, the employee will THEN go and see what the cause of the alarm was. Couple weeks ago, it was a dryer full of towels on fire. The employee simply walked them out into the parking lot and poured water on them.

                              Oh yes, very safe.

                              We continue on all AFA's until a fire officer on scene cancels us.

                              NYSmokey, I'd rather look stupid showing up to an alarm than showing up later to a buidling fire.
                              "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

                              Comment

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