Why do False Alarms Happen?

There are several reasons you may be experiencing unwarranted, false alarms. The good news is that the most common issues are simple fixes or adjustments to your current maintenance habits— a false alarm doesn’t always mean that a device is broken and needs replacing.

False Alarm

Here are some possible causes for false alarms and their solutions:

  1. There’s a difference between a smoke detector being simply inspected and truly cleaned. Be sure to clarify with your fire alarm vendor whether or not they will be cleaning your detectors. Generally, it is recommended that smoke detectors are cleaned at least once every six months. A quick fix is to run the soft brush attachment of your vacuum over the outside of the device, but always be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions and consult your fire alarm vendor if you have concerns.
  2. Even if your smoke detectors are being inspected and cleaned regularly, it is possible that the device sensitivity has not been checked recently. Again, be sure to ask your fire alarm vendor to check for device sensitivity when they service your system.
  3. Even a perfectly operational device might fail you if it is not placed correctly. Look out for possible contamination, excess moisture, or lack of temperature regulation near detectors. Talk to your fire alarm vendor if you feel this might be an issue leading to false alarms.
  4. As a building manager, communication with your tenants is vital to preventing false alarms. If any tenants are performing build-outs be sure to be in communication with your central station provider to ensure that the system is properly offline during construction hours.

Of course, your fire alarm vendor should be your go-to contact if you have any concerns about false alarms in your building. They will be able to accurately diagnose which of the above problems is occurring and assess any other issues that may be contributing to the false alarm (like a truly faulty device). In short, false alarms are an annoying and often costly issue—but they can be quickly resolved with some proactive adjustments to maintenance habits and by actively communicating with your fire alarm vendor.

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