1. #1
    PA Volunteer
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question AFA - Force Entry?

    For an Automatic Fire Alarm with nothing showing and no keyholder available, does your department force entry, find another way in, or go home?

  2. #2
    Captain Gonzo
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We investigate to the best of our ability.
    If it a residential ocupancy, we will do a 360 around the house, perhaps throw a ladder to the 2nd floor and scope out the situation.

    If there is a knox box on the building, we will enter to investigate using the keys from the box. If you force entry and find nothing, you have assumed responsibility for the building and securing it.

    Firefighters: rising under adverse conditions to accept the challenge!
    Captain Gonzo

    [This message has been edited by Captain Gonzo (edited 02-28-2001).]

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We have dispatch contact a responsible party to unlock the doors.

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    In our dist, most commercials have a knox box.

    But for those that do not and for residential, we have the disp center make contact with rep or alarm company about status of "key holder", If they advise that there will be no response, the disp documents the rep's name, etc and we leave. If they make contact w/ the alarm company and they can not make contact with a "keyholder" we wait 15 minutes and leave.

    A waterflow alarm with no knox or "keyholder " would result in forced entry, after a couple of these, the property owners tend to get serious about a "keyholder" responding.

    This is ONLY after a thorough eval of the exterior of the building.

    Our biggest problem was with "keyholders" that refused to respond.

    AFA's are a major pain, we have eliminated response to AFA's in line trouble, with the only exception to a line trouble alram that keeps sounding or won't reset.


  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Here we have one of those timeless problems that has existed in this job for a long, long time, and I'm not sure there is one cut and dried solution to it.

    As far as the as the statement that "If you force entry and find nothing, you have assumed responsibility for the building and securing it." This is true, but if there is a legitimate problem and you don't force entry, you have assumed responsibility for that also. As we all know, the false alarm ratio on these is high. A number of things can cause an alarm: electrical problems, water pressure surge...or an incipient fire not visible from an exterior size-up. I wouldn't want to be the one who walked away from that last one.

    If there is a Knox Box on the building, you've got it made. Get in, check it out and lock up when you leave.

    If there is no Knox Box (we have very few) and the alarm company reports that the system has reset and there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary on the size-up and the exterior size-up can be considered to reasonably conclude that no emergency exists, we consider that we have done our job and return to service. There is always a degree of uncertainty with this, however, and I have never really felt completely comfortable if I didn't check inside the building.

    If there is no Knox Box and anything doesn't look, sound or smell right on the size-up, including water flow, it will result in immediate forced entry. We may use thru-the-lock or something else non-destructive if the situation does not appear urgent. We typically do not hold a company out of service waiting for someone to show up with keys. Half the time, the keyholder doesn't even care enough to come out. On the other hand we have a responsibility to investigate the alarm promptly and conclusively, then return to service to be available for other calls. As Res7cue mentioned, after a couple of calls from the cops to come lock up their shop before looters carry it away, the responsible parties will generally either fix the system or install a Knox Box.

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Sniff..... Sniff..... I smell fund raiser!!!!

    Have any of you considered developing a public service campaign / fundraiser that would market Knox Boxes to business in your jurisdiction. This is one argument for having them installed on EVERY commercial structure.

  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Most of our AFAs are in residential buildings - primarily single-family homes. Like everyone else, no one in my dept. feels comfortable leaving without first scoping out the interior of the house. Sometimes a neighbor has a key, but usually we force entry, usually through a rear or second-floor window. The local PD notifies the residents about the entry when they get home, usually by leaving a card or note or cruising by the scene after we leave.

    As for commercials, we will wait for a keyholder before entering if we have nothing showing.

  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    This is where your thermal imaging camera can also come into great use. When you do your 360 for size up, bring that along and take a look from all sides also. You can't see the entire interior but it gives you more dimensions then walking around the outside.

    ..The above is my opinion only and I tactic I use, it doesn't necessarily reflect that of any dept./agency I work for, am a member of, or deal with.

    [This message has been edited by ALSfirefighter (edited 03-02-2001).]

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