Upcoming Meetings

Blog

Preventing Facilities False Alarms: What FMs Need To Know

Preventing Facility False Alarms

Alarm systems are designed to protect commercial properties from all sorts of disasters. From fires to burglaries, the system in your building will alert you to any threat that it detects 24 hours a day.

However, sometimes these systems can sound the alarm when no threat really exists in the building. As a facilities manager, you can minimize facility false alarms by knowing how to install your system properly and what measures to take to ensure it functions correctly around-the-clock.

Why Avoid False Alarms?

You might wonder why you should make every attempt to minimize or eliminate facility false alarms in your building. After all, how much harm can a false alarm really do to commercial property? What is the big deal if your alarm system goes off by accident?

In fact, a facility false alarm can have major ramifications on a business notwithstanding the wracking up of major penalties and fines. Most police and fire departments understand that businesses will have the occasional false alarm. However, they do not appreciate having to respond to continued weekly or sometimes daily false alarms because of faulty systems.

If your building has repeated false alarms, it could be heavily fined by the police and fire departments. As the facilities manager, you will be responsible for explaining these fines to the business owner and why you failed to take immediate action to keep the false alarms to a bare minimum.

Further, repeated false alarms could lead to the shuttering of the building until the alarm system is fixed. The building's insurance company or the state fire inspector could decide that it is too costly and dangerous to keep the building open while it is being guarded by an alarm system that does not work properly.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, repeated false alarms can give the building’s occupants a false sense of security. They may disregard the alarms when they go off instead of evacuating or taking other proactive measures. In the worst case scenario, false alarms could lead to injuries or a loss of life.

Rather than face these scenarios, you can take measures now to keep false alarms to an absolute minimum. These steps are common sense and simple and can save you the headaches that come with dealing with repeated facility false alarms.

Avoiding False Alarms

The first step you can take as a facilities manager to minimize false alarms is to retain the services of a factory trained and licensed alarm company. The company should have a staff of trained, bonded, and licensed technicians on hand who can come to your building to install, maintain, and repair the alarms on a regular basis. 

You also should ensure that the alarms are the newest models and installed in appropriate places throughout your building. For example, you do not want smoke or fire alarms installed too closely to heaters or cooking appliances. These fixtures could trigger the alarms when there really is no threat in the building. 

Likewise, you want carbon monoxide detectors to be installed close to gas fixtures like furnaces and hot water heaters. These alarms should not be installed close to windows where they could catch breezes and not be able to detect the presence of carbon monoxide in the building’s air. 

Another measure you can take as a facilities manager is to train the building’s staff on how to use the alarm system correctly. You can start by showing them how to deactivate the system in the morning when they first open the building. You also should show them how to activate the alarms when they leave for the evening. During the daytime, you should keep the burglary detection system deactivated with the exception of the panic alarms. 

Finally, you should use care when hanging decorations in the building. Decorations can catch the breeze by doors and windows, tripping motion detectors and sounding off the alarms. You should hang decorations in areas that are not monitored by motion sensors if you want to avoid false alarms.

These simple steps can save you from dealing with the expense, embarrassment, and possible tragedy that can come with false alarms. You can keep the building’s occupants safe and save the business owners money. You also ensure that real emergencies like burglaries, carbon monoxide leaks, and fires will be responded to quickly if or when they occur.

If you're an IFMA-LI member, please login so you can comment on this article.

Return to list