Guidebook: Causes and Cures for False Fire Alarms

Posted by Zach Nelson on Nov 17, 2014 1:01:00 PM

Most of the time fire alarm systems sit quietly, waiting to alert us of a possible threat. We have certainly become highly dependent on them to work when we need them. Yet, at some point nearly every building, including sophisticated high-rises, outdated office buildings, schools, and even our own homes will experience a false fire alarm.

Many times we react impulsively to silence these unwanted alarms, but in doing so it is easy to unwittingly create major problems with the future performance of these systems.

In any building more than three nuisance alarms per year will affect the responsiveness of the occupants. This is where the true danger lies. When people become used to alarms, no matter how loud, they lose their effectiveness. Every one of us can attest to this behavior. We have all been through far more fire drills than actual fires. When that alarm starts ringing we get that initial shot of adrenaline, but how long does it take for us to consciously calm ourselves down? Then we even get a little annoyed, right? We think things like, “Oh man! I was right in the middle of…” or, “I sure hope this doesn’t take too long. I’ve got a conference call soon.” This complacency is a problem, especially when it is due to recurring false alarms.

Another threat is when we may not be familiar with how to fix these systems, sometimes out of frustration we simply “eliminate the problem.” Logically we know that removing a detector, pulling the batteries, or button mashing the control panel is not a good long term solution but we think, “I’ll fix that soon.” These patchwork solutions become nuisance alarms (not to mention the obvious danger of not having functioning detectors).



Here’s the thing–these are not rare issues, but extremely common problems. So, ORR has designed this Guidebook: Causes and Cures for False Alarms for anyone responsible for the fire alarm system of nearly any type of building.

In this guidebook you will learn:

  • The top five types of unwanted alarms
  • What you can do to stop nuisance alarms
  • Download a chart with Causes and Curses for False Alarms
  • What the NFPA says about false alarms

At ORR Protection Systems we believe a large part of being Mission Critical Fire Protection Experts® is being able to pass this expertise on to those who need it.

Here are a few other pages you may be interested in:


Topics: Alarm Notification, Facility Management, Industry Education, Fire Alarm

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