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How to Prevent a False Fire Alarm

Now more than ever, fire safety has become of prevailing importance for every home or business. Having a fire protection system that works as it should means peace of mind for you, as well as for the people you care about. However, when malfunctioning and false alarms become the new normal, every event increases the chances that people will feel less concerned by an alarm and neglect to promptly and safely evacuate during a real fire threat. Protect your property by proactively preventing false alarms activations from occurring with these helpful tips.

1. Avoid accidental activation – Make sure manual pull stations are both easily accessible and protected from accidental activations by installing a cover. In case of emergencies, the protection cover is easily removable and will activate a small buzzer to notify you when it is being opened.

2. Make sure exhaust fans are functioning – If you suspect a problem with your exhaust fan, try removing the filters and checking for exposed fusible links which can cause false alarms when triggered by heat or grease. Make sure you always run exhaust fans while cooking, and replace filters often.

3. Install surge protectors – It doesn’t take much of a power surge to cause major damage to electrical components and to trigger false alarm activations. Installing a whole-house surge suppression device ensures this doesn’t become an issue for you.

4. Don’t let dust build-up – Smoke detectors are designed to detect precise changes in air particles. When dust and cobwebs are allowed to accumulate around the filters, it can completely prevent the alarm from functioning. Aim to clean the inside and outside of the smoke detector at least once every six months by using a vacuum cleaner attachment and wiping down the outside vents with a cloth.

5. Install adequate ventilation – Make sure to ventilate shower and laundry rooms, industrial spaces, cooking areas, and any area where steam, heat, or oil byproducts could trigger a false alarm. Ask a qualified fire protection system technician which types of detectors are appropriate for your higher risk areas.

6. Only allow smoking in designated areas – This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often a careless cigarette triggers a smoke alarm. Make sure that smoking areas are clearly delineated and sufficiently distanced from the nearest alarm.

7. Regularly maintain and inspect – Perhaps the most effective strategy for preventing false fire alarms is consistent testing and maintenance. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire alarm systems should be tested and re-certified at least once a year. In fact, some fire protection systems require weekly, monthly, quarterly, and semi-annual maintenance tasks. Familiarize yourself with the requirements of your system and have a fire protection system inspection regularly performed by a trained technician.

8. Update and replace – Despite maintenance, your alarm system will need to be replaced habitually. How often will completely depend on what type of system you own. However, it’s a good rule of thumb to replace no less than once every 10 years.

Questions about preparing your home for fire safety? Contact our Napa fire safety experts at Firebrand Safety Systems to schedule a whole-house assessment.

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