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Preventing False Fire Alarms

smoke detector

False fire alarm calls keep firefighters from responding to real emergencies and cause residents to ignore or disconnect their alarms. We ask everyone in Surrey to take this matter seriously and learn how to reduce false alarms. Please read the Preventing False Fire Alarms Notice. (The notice is also available in Punjabi).

Tips for Preventing False Alarms In Your Home or Business

  • Clean your smoke alarm. Use the brush attachment on your vacuum to suck dust and bugs out of the smoke alarm.
  • Install your smoke alarms at least 3 feet from heat/AC vents. Smoke alarms placed near a cold air return are more susceptible to nuisance alarms because dusty air can be blown through the alarm sensing chamber.
  • Install smoke alarms at least 1 metre from fluorescent lights. Electrical interference from fluorescent lights can cause smoke alarms to malfunction.
  • Ionization smoke alarms are more susceptible to accidental activation by high humidity. Ensure that your smoke alarms/detectors are placed at least 3 metres away from sources of steam (eg, bathrooms, laundry rooms etc).
  • Install your smoke alarm/detector at least 6 metres away from cooking appliances. In areas where this is not possible (in modular, mobile, or smaller homes, for example), place smoke alarms as far from these fuel-burning sources as possible.
  • Purchase guards and warning labels to help reduce accidental activation of fire alarm pull-stations.
  • Replace any smoke alarm that is older than 10 years (or earlier if stipulated by the manufacturer). Smoke alarms are no longer reliable after 10 years.
  • When doing construction or renovations around smoke alarms, ensure they are covered. Remove the covers when the work is completed.
  • Dirt, drywall dust and construction debris is often present in ductwork post construction. First use of the furnace can cause fine particles to be blown through the house possibly causing nuisance alarms. Nuisance alarms tend to increase during the fall when furnaces are turned on for the first time.
  • When a new furnace is turned on for first use, oil (used to protect the metal surfaces) and residue may be present from the factory. This can cause smoke to be emitted for a period of time and possibly set off smoke alarms.
  • AC/DC Smoke Alarms may alarm briefly when power is interrupted, then restored. Power interruptions are common in areas where utility companies switch grids in the early hours of the morning.
  • In AC or AC/DC smoke alarms, a loose wire connection can intermittently disconnect power to the smoke alarm. The effect is the same as a power failure. Be sure all wires are properly connected. Use a qualified electrician for installation.

Never disregard an alarm. If your home has interconnected alarms, the unit triggering the alarm may be in another area of the home. You might not see smoke, but it may be present elsewhere in the home.