Working together to reduce false fire alarms

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As part of the commitment to fast, efficient emergency response, Strathcona County emergency responders are educating residents and businesses on how to prevent false fire alarms. If necessary, fees may be charged for repeat false alarm calls as of March 8, 2016.

Fewer false alarms reduce the risk to businesses, residents and firefighters by improving available response for other emergency calls. Emergency Services personnel will first educate the property owner or building manager about false fire alarms and the importance of a properly maintained fire alarm system. After the second response, Emergency Services personnel may use discretion when issuing a fine, depending on the circumstance.

In 2015, Emergency Services responded to 227 commercial and 330 residential false fire alarms. A "response" is when a fire truck arrives on scene of the alarm.

How can I prevent false fire alarms?

Emergency Services encourages you to reduce the number of false fire alarms by considering the following:

  • Regular maintenance. Fire alarm systems should receive regular maintenance and testing to ensure they are functioning properly (as per CAN/ULC-S536 - Standard for inspecting and testing fire alarm systems). Notify your alarm company before testing or repairing the system. At home, use your vacuum cleaner to clean your smoke detector regularly.
  • Plan ahead. If you plan to conduct hot works (soldering/welding), spray paint, sanding or anything else that produces a significant amount of visible dust, there's a good chance that you will activate the smoke detector. Notify your alarm monitoring company before doing anything that you suspect will set the fire alarm off. 
  • Proper installation. Ensure fire alarm equipment is installed properly and treat your system with care. Notify your alarm service company of any damages and have repairs conducted by a certified technician.
  • Contact information. Ensure your alarm monitoring company has your correct contact information.

What do I do if my fire alarm is triggered by accident?

If your home fire alarm system has been triggered by accident, take the necessary steps to cancel the false alarm by calling 9-1-1 and explaining the situation and then notifying your monitoring company of the false activation. 

Emergency Services will respond to all reported false fire alarms to any business which is required to have a fire alarm system, as per the Alberta Building Code. If your fire alarm system has been activated, but you're not sure why:

  • Do not reset the fire alarm system.
  • Evacuate the building as per the Fire Safety Plan.
  • Phone 9-1-1. Emergency Services will search for the cause of the activation and ensure the building is safe prior to occupants re-entering the building.The building owner or responsible party will be advised of what must be  done in order to rectify the situation.
  • A follow up by Emergency Services with the building owner will ensure the fire alarm system is functioning properly.

If any activation of a fire alarm system has been done maliciously, this is considered a criminal act under Section 437 of the Criminal Code of Canada, and charges may be laid.

Common causes of fire alarms in Strathcona County

  • cooking
  • faulty alarm panel
  • faulty detector
  • smoke detector activated by dust
  • technician working on the system
  • steam
  • homeowner testing the alarm; fire drills involving activation of the fire alarm system where Emergency Services has not been notified
  • construction processes
  • sprinkler malfunction causing an alarm to be activated

False fire alarm response fees (as of January 1, 2016)

The fee structure resets on January 1 each year

  • 1st false alarm - no charge
  • 2nd false alarm - $250
  • 3rd false alarm - $375
  • 4th (and subsequent) false alarm - $500

Appropriate fees will be charged to the homeowner, business owner and/or building manager.

Bylaw #68-2000

 

Questions?
Fire Prevention and Investigation
fireprev@strathcona.ca
780-449-9651

Last updated: Monday, February 05, 2018
Page ID: 49091