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June 6, 2023

5 Reasons Why Reducing False Fire Alarms Should Be on Your To-Do List

Recurring False Alarms Continue to Increase

Recurring false fire alarms is a global concern as the problem continues to be a strain for the fire service, schools, businesses, and the public. Most buildings often indicate false fire alarms are among their biggest fire safety challenges.

Numerous jurisdictions have attempted to mitigate the false fire alarm issue, often with less than acceptable results.

Fire departments in the United States reported 896,500 false fire alarms in 1980. Since that time the number has grown by more than 230 percent to an astonishing 2.12 million (National Fire Protection Association [NFPA] of Quincy, Massachusetts).

Those numbers are unacceptable. Failure to take meaningful action could have disastrous consequences for citizens, building owners, and security officers.

Here are five reasons why reducing false fire alarms should be on your to-do list:

Reason 5. Disruption – False alarms cause unnecessary disruption and loss of productivity to school and business effectiveness, efficiency, profitability, and services. When a building is cleared, the potential of students, patients, employees, staff, and/or customers losing focus, wandering off or permanently leaving, is increased.

Reason 4. Unnecessary Risk and/or Panic – A false call puts the lives of brave emergency responders at further risk and creates the possibility of fatalities resulting from traffic accidents while rigs rush to attend false alarms. It also causes panic on the road or in a building, which can lead to unnecessary injuries or health issues.

Reason 3. Complacency/Alarm Fatigue – Repeated false alarms can result in disastrous incidents when the public is unresponsive to the sounding of fire alarms in buildings, which can potentially cause fatal effects. Individuals become unconcerned and do not heed the threat against their safety. Alarm fatigue is inevitable when there are frequent false alarms because of reluctancy to comply, leaving people vulnerable to risks of fires. If false alarms persist, individuals become conditioned to believe the warning is fake, and when a legitimate alarm sounds it fails to attract the needed attention to the emergency. This complacency leads to loss of revenue, a waste of resources and even sometimes fatalities.

Reason 2. Cost/Lost Revenue – False alarms cost building owners more than $100 million in 2020. In the same year, false alarms also accounted for $1.8 billion in wasted police time and resources (Center for Problem-Oriented Policing). If a false fire alarm is activated, a building must be evacuated. This causes a loss of productivity from employees, staff and students, or a possible shortfall in retail sales from customers that can never be regained. The building owner may also incur a charge for repeated and unnecessary false alarms from a municipality for the expense of the fire department responding when they were needed somewhere else for a real emergency.

The Number 1 Reason. Communities Depend on You – Become a better community member because it is the conscious thing to do. Display respect towards society and authorities by not pulling false fire alarms, reporting any suspicious activity, and leading by example. Children, teenagers, and even adults, are constantly watching, learning, and imitating others’ actions. If you set a high standard hopefully, they will imitate, and will teach someone, who passes it on to another, and so on. Always think about your safety and the safety of the people around you, just as you hope other individuals are equally as considerate.

Many authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) recognize that the false fire alarm situation is indeed a multi-faceted problem rising to epidemic proportions and is causing many people to take drastic measures, such as disconnecting manual pull stations, to eliminate the problem. It is obvious that what is needed is significant corrective measures implemented immediately. This problem can only be solved by using a comprehensive approach. Failure to take meaningful corrective action to respond to these chronic false fire alarms will have disastrous consequences for citizens.

Make False Fire Alarms a Thing of the Past

Educating building owners, inspectors, responsible persons and the general public to be proactive about preventing malicious activation can contribute significantly to false alarm reduction.

One immediate and sufficient way to help drastically reduce false fire alarm risks—and sometimes eliminate them—is to install high quality and dependable protective polycarbonate covers approved by fire marshals or Underwriter Laboratory (UL Listed). Cost-effective clear covers within the industry are use-proven and mount directly to the wall over existing manual pull stations and help discourage someone from triggering a false alarm. The professionally engineered covers do not restrict a legitimate alarm from being activated.

STI’s Universal Stopper® protective cover is specifically designed to help deter false fire alarms or accidental activation of manual pull stations. Proven effective for over 40 years, the polycarbonate cover fits over fire alarms and is highly successful in protecting manual pull stations.

When the Universal Stopper cover is lifted, it flashes (STI-14000 series only), and a loud warning horn will sound locally. Immediate attention is drawn to the area before a false alarm is pulled. STI’s full range of covers offer excellent protection against false activation, physical damage (both accidental and intentional), dust and grime as well as severe environments. Available in a wide range of sizes and mounting options for indoors or outdoors, the covers are easy to install before a building is occupied or retrofit while in operation. The high-quality covers are UL/cUL Listed and ADA Compliant.

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