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  1. #1
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    Default Responding to False alarms

    I was wondering how other depts. handle False alarms, when the homeowner calls the answering service, gives the proper code, and says everything is ok.
    We still send the first responding engine. I was just curious if other depts. do the same.


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    For us its the officers discression. Hopefully the officer will just cancel or maybe call the home owner just to "make contact". I hate showing up after dispatch tells us proper code, contact made with residence then the home owner says "I told them we did'nt need you"

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    I hate showing up after dispatch tells us proper code, contact made with residence then the home owner says "I told them we did'nt need you"
    The answer to that is, we have to come. I've been to more than 50 instances where the person that called with the proper passcode wasn't even on scene. One of those was a small fire in the house and NOBODY was home.

    We're the fire department, we're supposed to show up. You can go non-emergent but I really think you have to get there to investigate. I've got nowhere else to be until my man shows up at the end of the shift.

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    More often than not this situation seems to come from alarm systems and if a 2nd call was received reporting a false alarms the first (and maybe only) engine continues in at reduced speed to investigate.
    Just another one of the 99%ers looking up.

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    Let's talk fire trucks! BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    At work, the 1st due engine continues non-emergent to verify.

    In the volly county, we cancel all responding apparatus if we're cancelled by the alarm company itself. If the occupant calls directly to 911 to cancel, we send 1st due engine non-emergent to verify.
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    MembersZone Subscriber mcaldwell's Avatar
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    First due continues non-emergency, and speaks to owner in-person. First Officer can choose to either stage or cancel all others.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    In the volly county, we cancel all responding apparatus if we're cancelled by the alarm company itself. If the occupant calls directly to 911 to cancel, we send 1st due engine non-emergent to verify.
    BoxAlarm- just wondering why you will cancel for the alarm company, but not the occupant.


    In my dept, we will cancel at any report of a false alarm from dispatch and return to station. There are times that a chief may respond, but this it not always the case, especially if it is a repeat offender. I would like to see an engine go non emergent to investigate every false alarm.

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    We disregard all responding apparatus but they must have the codes.

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    Forum Member volfirie's Avatar
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    Once responded, we keep going - but downgrade. A repeat offender? They get sent a bill, so much per truck per 15 minutes out of station.
    "Professional" means your attitude to the job...

    Nullus Anxietas ..... (T Pratchett)

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    Quote Originally Posted by volfirie View Post
    Once responded, we keep going - but downgrade. A repeat offender? They get sent a bill, so much per truck per 15 minutes out of station.
    So I take it you are volunteer, but you guys can send them a bill? How much do you charge? Any issues that come up with this?

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    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by resqb1 View Post
    The answer to that is, we have to come. I've been to more than 50 instances where the person that called with the proper passcode wasn't even on scene. One of those was a small fire in the house and NOBODY was home.

    We're the fire department, we're supposed to show up. You can go non-emergent but I really think you have to get there to investigate.
    Exactly. We've had that happen as well. Yes there is a 99% chance it is nothing. But that 1% is why we're here.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    If it is a third party monitoring company we will cancel all responding unit if they call an cancel the alarm.

    In the event it is an alarm called in through 9-1-1 all units remain en route till the alarm is verified by the first in unit, that it is a false alarm.

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    They call we go
    U dont know what u have untill u GET THERE and INVESTIGATE INSIDE AND OUT, Only Chief or Officer can hold and cancel
    Firefighter for Vestal 32-2

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    Quote Originally Posted by resQengine View Post
    So I take it you are volunteer, but you guys can send them a bill? How much do you charge? Any issues that come up with this?
    We are paid, and we bill for repeats. Most FDs (all paid) around here do the same.

    Our policy is 3 false alarms in 6 months and we start charging. But ONLY for alarm malfunctions. Not from weather, not accidental, not a kid pulls a box, but a problem with the system.

    We consider the charge a fine for not maintaining the system or having it repaired. 1st time is $100, 2nd $150, 3rd $200 and so on.

    No issues. After a "fine" or two, people tend to fix and maintain their alarms like they should, which equals less false calls for us.
    Last edited by Dave1983; 02-23-2008 at 12:12 PM.
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    Once we are on the road...there is no stopping us.

    To many variables and situations where this could concievably end up very badly.

    We investigate all alarms that are transmitted to the Borough Central office.

    -Arsonists, resturant managers worried about us disturbing their patrons for what they believe to be a minor fire that they beleieve was handled by their cooks (many times has ended with a gutted building due to a duct fire)
    Civilians who are embarased about starting a small kitchen fire they started and knocked down...only to find out that the fire extended behind the cabinets into a chase for a vent fan and is now racing up to the cockloft....etc.

    I was working one day...Fire alarm for private school....arrive find it was some kid on the 6th floor pulled a station on the wall. Reset and return to quarters....not 3 mintues after geting back to quarters same box, same class 3 alarm...same address. No phone alarm...no second source reporting anything.

    We get dressed turnout just as we did before...3 Engines 2 Trucks and 1 Chief...just as before...all expecting in all likelyhood the same condition as before...but to our suprise the Boss transmits the 10-75...says we have a fire in the theater on the 1st Floor!

    Fire was caused by some lamps much too close to the stage curtains! Completely unrelated.

    Just the same in my former dept responding to report of garage fire...shortly thereafter dispatcher cancels everyone but the 1st Due Engine (as was policy at time) 1st Engine arrives to find sizeable fire in an attached garage to a PD and an anxious home owner using a outmatched garden hose!

    Had to call everyone back.

    He thought he knocked it down and called back to tell the alarm company to tell them everything was OK. (fire started in clothes dryer on otherside of wall between living area and garage) Didn't want the embarasement of having the FD arrive.

    Another night...responding report of appartment fire. On the way there...Dispatcher cancels everyone but 1st Due...says PD advises EMS situation Dif-breathing....no fire.

    We arrive and find police officer with old woman in obvious distress and breathing hard with smoke/soot around her nose and mouth. And accross the street...her appartment on fire from her smoking with O2! Call everone back. PD dispatcher misunderstood that in addition to the fire there was a victim in need of EMS.

    Two anecdotal stories which are just some of the support for why my current dept doesn't take chances with all the variables that come from cancling the FD response.

    If you get the alarm...respond accordingly...there is no reason to assume it is false until YOU the professional determine that it was false.

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  16. #16
    Forum Member volfirie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by resQengine View Post
    So I take it you are volunteer, but you guys can send them a bill? How much do you charge? Any issues that come up with this?
    Mostly volunteer service. We don't send the bills ourselves, that's handled by our local headquarters - we're a State-wide service. The amount charged varies depending on the actual Brigade that turns out (things like full vol, combination, full career). I think for us it's around $150 per truck per fifteen minutes out of Station, over $300 for full career Station - these are a bit guesswork as I haven't seen the scale of fees for a long time! We can recommend charging, but the HQ make the decisiion. And we don't see any of the money - not directly. So say a nursing home nearby has an alarm system that needs repair, but they fail to fix it? They could be getting bills for around $2000 each time. A good incentive to get the system repaired. We're pretty easy to get along with, we don't want to make enemies - but if we get called out constantly for a faulty system?

    Any isssues with the bills? Probably a few unhappy people, but the charging is covered by State law, so they haven't got much chance.
    "Professional" means your attitude to the job...

    Nullus Anxietas ..... (T Pratchett)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Capt86 View Post
    I was wondering how other depts. handle False alarms, when the homeowner calls the answering service, gives the proper code, and says everything is ok.
    We still send the first responding engine. I was just curious if other depts. do the same.
    Same here, if our units are disregarded they will still go code 1 to the scene.

  18. #18
    Forum Member almsfan21's Avatar
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    Regardless, we run lights and sirens, and are expected to be packed up, and first off FFs to grab a forcible entry/pike/hook tool...if smoke showing, full response (pulling hoseline, etc..)
    Probationary Firefighter

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  19. #19
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    I still don't understand why some depts will cancel for the alarm company, but will continue if its a call from the home owner. Seems like an alarm company will just take tha passcode and tell you to disregard, even if the owner is not on site. If that is the case, why wouldnt you cancel for the owner if they called into 911 ....or maybe I'm missing something.

    Just wondering what the reasoning behind this is. If one of the posters from above that does this could answer that for me, that would be great.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by resQengine View Post
    I still don't understand why some depts will cancel for the alarm company, but will continue if its a call from the home owner. Seems like an alarm company will just take tha passcode and tell you to disregard, even if the owner is not on site. If that is the case, why wouldnt you cancel for the owner if they called into 911 ....or maybe I'm missing something.

    Just wondering what the reasoning behind this is. If one of the posters from above that does this could answer that for me, that would be great.
    I'm assuming its a liability issue. If the alarm company cancels you (don't know why they'd would) then they are assuming the liability. If the "homeowner" cancels, how can you be sure it's the "homeowner"? Maybe it's the arsonist?

    We check out every alarm, most often calls to cancel will cause the responding units to downgrade to non-emergency given our longest run is under 2 miles and less than 4 minutes.

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