1. #1
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    Post response to electronic alarms

    I am conducting a survey for my department concerning responses to electronic alarms. We are answering an ever increasing number of multiple false alarms.We currently respond emergency to every one. We are looking at changing this procedure.We have to take into consideration the following; Response times ,highway safety,dollar loss, operational expense savings,and life safety for building occupants. We currently respond 2 engines,1 ladder,1 medic truck, and 1 commanding officer to every residential alarm.We respond 3engines,2 ladders,1 medic truck,and 1 command officer on commercial and high occupancy alarms.This represents first alarm assignments. We are considering changing this procedure for multiple alarms from the same location. Such as 2alarms within a 2 hour period ect.We are considering sending first due engine only emergency, everyone else non emergency or perhaps first due engine only after receipt of second alarm from same system. Any suggestions or experience with this type situation is greatly appreciated.

    [ 01-07-2002: Message edited by: james III ]</p>

  2. #2
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    Are you talking about automatic alarm activations? Here (and I imagine it's similar in many cities) approx. 98% to 99% are false alarms, and the remaining 1% or 2% are being called in by someone a minute later anyways. On a reported fire, we respond with 2 engines, 1 truck, 1 squad, 1 rescue, battalion chief, and a medic unit. On alarm activations (not reported fires) we only respond with 1 engine (except for hospitals, schools, nursing homes, etc, it's 2 engines, 1 truck and batt chief). We have many highrises and this dispatch procedure worked just fine for us for years now. I'd estimate we go to about 2500 alarm activations per year. Hope this helps,

    Mike

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    MikeE-631; Thanks for the input.Yes I was talking about automatic alatm systems. I work in Roanoke,Va. We have a population of 95,000. If you dont mind, where are you located?

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    We have the following SOP for automatic alarm, response - it's a little cumbersome, but works for us (6 square mile community, predominently residential, 33,000 population, combination department with 17 career and 30 volunteer). Also, all occupancies that are required by the state or our municipality to have an alarm system (includes all churches, schools, hospitals, nursing/residential care/group homes, and all multiple-occupancy residential buildings with > 2 units) are required to have the alarm system tied directly into our 9-1-1 center central-station receiver. They cannot use a third-party alarm monitoring company exclusively (i.e. Guardian, ADT, Vector, etc). This cuts our response time significantly.

    <br />Between 0700 and 2300 hours:

    Any occupancy, unknown initiating device or known to be a single smoke detector - one engine, 3 firefighters minimum.

    <br />Between 2300 and 0700 hours:

    Any occupancy with sleeping facilities, any initiating device, 2 engines (and a truck if commercial), full department response.

    Any occupancy, no life hazard, unknown initiating device or known to be a single smoke detector - one engine, 3 firefighters minimum.

    <br />24 hours:

    Any occupancy, any device coupled with a phone report of a problem, or a known manual pull station, or waterflow alarm, 2 engines (and a truck if commercial), full department response.

    Any response can be upgraded at the discretion of the OIC.

    Also, regarding MikeE-631's reply - what is termed a "false alarm" varies greatly. If someone burns food and the system trips, is that a "false alarm" or and unintentional activation? To me, it wasn't false - the system sensed smoke, and did what it was supposed to. What about steam, spiders, dust, power surges, lightning strikes, malicious or accidental pull station activations; which of these should we call "false", "unintentional", or a "system malfunction"? We (the entire fire service) should be be more specific in how we report "false alarms" - the term is very broad-based and does not accurately reflect the reliability of fire alarm systems, and furthers the public perception that "most alarms are false".
    R.A. Ricciuti
    Mt. Lebanon Fire Department

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    I am on a volunteer dept. and when we get an alarm drop we run it just like any other call. You get a full response (2 engines, 2 tankers, a rescue truck, and an ambulance)until an officer or a unit arrives on scene. Even if the alarm company calls back we still send at least one truck out to investigate it. The time we don't will probably end up being the big one.

  6. #6
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    We run one engine non-emergency to alarms....Why risk fire fighters and civilians with emergency response on calls that are almost always malfunctions. On the rare occasion it is an actual fire we usually get phone calls to 911.

  7. #7
    FEOBob
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    Ten or twelve years ago we had a full alarm response to every alarm system, such as you do.<br />We then went to full alarm, but only closest station goes code.<br />Our current alarm system response is two fire aparatus, at least one an engine, to comercial or high risk occupancies, closest rig goes code, or both code if from the same station.<br />A residential alarm (ie a house) gets only the closest fire apparatus, unless that is not an engine.

    We also have had good luck in having 911 calls tip us off to real fires. As well, the dispatcher has the option of upgrading to a full fire response if something tips them off, such as both heat and water flow alarms.

  8. #8
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    raricciuti wrote:<br />"We (the entire fire service) should be be more specific in how we report "false alarms" - the term is very broad-based and does not accurately reflect the reliability of fire alarm systems, and furthers the public perception that "most alarms are false". "

    In reply to the above, our dept. defines the following:<br />Unintentional System Activation: properly working system that has been activated by something other than smoke/fire, such as dust or spiders; or by carelessly smoking cigaretts underneath a smoke detector; or by pull station activation by a child younger than (approx.) 5 years.<br />System Malfunction: improperly working system, activated without a cause, e.g. wiring problems, bad detectors.<br />Malicious False Alarm: pull station activation by someone older than (approx.) 5 years (when no hazard on scene); use of fireworks or smoke bombs indoors <img src="mad.gif" border="0"> <br />Stove top fires, trash can fires and so on are considered fires, not false calls.<br />Alarm activations in our response area are approximately 75% unintentional, 20% malfunction, 4% malicious, and 1% actual fires. I'd be curious how this statistic looks like for other FD's <br /> <img src="confused.gif" border="0">

    Mike

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