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Unnecessary Fire Alarms

Fire Alarm

If you’ve ever been in a building when the fire alarm is going off but everyone is ignoring it, then you are familiar with a phenomenon the Denver Fire Department takes very seriously.

When building occupants ignore fire alarms, it’s usually because they hear them so often that they assume they are no longer an indication of a real threat. But ignoring an alarm could prove deadly in case of a real fire. Also, each time a Fire crew responds to an unnecessary alarm, firefighters and citizens are exposed to the risks of being in traffic, not to mention wasting fuel, personnel costs and taxpayer money.

There are numerous possible causes for unnecessary alarms, such as:

•faulty alarms or systems
•incorrect techniques used during system testing
•fumes from cooking
•someone maliciously activating a manual alarm device
•a lightning strike as far as a couple of blocks away

Each case needs to be researched and responded to separately. In almost all buildings where fire alarm systems are present, they are required by law. If the system isn’t working properly, they may not have been maintained in accordance with City and County of Denver ordinances. In these cases the property owner is required to have it repaired.

Fire Prevention works with property owners to diagnose and reduce the number of unnecessary alarms. Here’s a summary of our approach:
•If a building has more than three unnecessary alarms within 90 days, we designate it as having a problematic system. Between inspection logs and referrals from DFD’s Operations Division and City Technical Services, some 30 problem properties are identified each year.
•Fire Prevention personnel meet with the property owners and the firm that is under contract to maintain the system and provide maintenance, and try to identify and fix the problem, whether it is a testing problem, malicious activity, or system problems.
•An order to comply may be issued, requiring the property owner to employ a licensed contractor to inspect and evaluate the system and conduct any necessary repairs
•If buildings identified as having an excessive number of false alarms do not comply with our requirements by the date specified, we issue a Denver County Court summons and let the courts handle it.

We may not be able to eliminate all unnecessary alarms in any given building, but the above steps can dramatically reduce the number of unnecessary alarms.