How to Prevent False Alarms

Let’s be honest – false alarms are annoying. Sure, it’s better safe than sorry and more often than not, false alarms are totally worth it. Almost all of us would rather have that happen than the alternative. With that being said, it doesn’t mean they should be happening frequently. There are things you can do to ensure that false fire alarms aren’t an ongoing issue in your home or place of business.

What Causes Them?

There are a lot of reasons that fire alarms can get tripped. Reasons include dust, insects, strong chemicals, and poor installation, let’s take a closer look.

Dirt, Dust, and Bugs

Believe it or not, insects cause a lot of false alarms. Some are so small that they’re able to get inside the device and inadvertently mess around with its sensors. This can be exacerbated by excess dust and dirt – which can make your detector overly sensitive to things in a given area; therefore increasing the likelihood of a false alarm.

Poor Installation

The fact is most business owners at first tend to view fire safety as a sidebar issue to what they have going on with their day-to-day. This makes them want to save on costs by using more inexpensive equipment. While you don’t need the Cadillac of fire safety equipment, you DO need to invest in dependable, reliable brands and products.

Doing so will save you a ton of money. In fact, most false alarms are caused by low-quality detectors and even worse – poor installation or incorrect placement. Things like being installed too close to a bathroom or in an area where they’re exposed to pollen particles or barbecue smoke from outside your home can also make your detector more susceptible to a false alarm. Additionally, be careful about your alarm’s proximity to heat-generating assets like ovens, stoves, radiators, and the like as those can trip alarms, too.

The best rule of thumb is to try to place your alarms 10-20 feet away from these sorts of things – making it easier to avoid a false alarm. 


One of the biggest culprits for false alarms is chemicals. Microparticles from inside your wall and even some cleaning agents can trigger your detector. When you’re repainting your home or commercial space – we definitely recommend disabling your alarm *while* you work and then turn it back on once you’ve had a few hours to settle.

What Can I Do To Avoid These Things?

The first thing you should always try to do is to clean up the area near your alarm. Just like anything else, they accumulate dust, dirt mold, and other debris. Vacuum vents near detectors, sweep and clean the areas around them, even gently wipe them down. And always – rest your device when you do.

Additionally, always be sure you have a fire safety pro come through once a year just to check up on your alarms. They may need minor things like battery replacement – but they can also help you figure out where to best place your detectors so they can do their job as intended. Doing so – will dramatically decrease the risk of a false fire alarm.

And above all else – even if you hear an alarm and you’re 99% sure it’s nothing; follow your regular fire safety protocols to the ‘t’. Exit the building, get people to safety – then try your best after the coast is clear, to try to identify what caused it. And if you’re unsure, call in a pro.

If you have a question about this or any other fire and life safety topic, please contact Protegis Fire & Safety.

Common Local Fire Code Violations and How to Avoid Them

While it’s true that installing a fire protection system in your place of work shows a deep commitment on your part to the safety of your employees; regular, ongoing inspections are necessary in order to make sure that everything is working as it’s intended to.

When we say ‘working as intended to’ – we also mean that your system should be up to code. People get fined for a number of infractions and usually because they haven’t kept up on their system as much as they should. And truth be told, what they pay in maintenance or repairs oftentimes dwarfs the fine they receive.

There are a few things that we notice people get dinged for more often than others and that’s what we’re going to share with you today. Let’s begin.

Dirty Smoke Detectors in Your Ductwork

A lot of times business owners are 100% aware of the smoke detectors inside their buildings that are in plain sight – but they often take for granted the ones that are actually inside their HVAC systems. I guess you could say it’s a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ It’s an honest mistake – but one that can be costly.

These smoke detectors are important because they police all the air circulating throughout your building and can often serve as the first line of defense against fires. Problems tend to arise though – when dust and dirt rapidly build up and hinders the detector from properly doing its job.

The best solution for this is when you have your ductwork cleaned and also schedule your fire safety system maintenance checks, as well. This way, you’ll be able to make sure that basic things like air filters being changed and smoke detectors being cleaned are being performed all at once.

 Blocked Fire Exits

Every commercial building should have clear, accessible fire exits to ensure public safety. Make sure your exits are clutter-free and there’s a direct path to get out of the building.

This is particularly important for restaurants – as you need to make sure that secondary exit doors in customer-accessible areas and employee workspaces are safe. Having clear access can save lives.

 Blocked Pull Stations

Today, when you walk into almost any modern building, you’ll see pull stations. The problem is sometimes people block these stations with everything from furniture, plants and other objects – and most of the time they don’t even realize they’re doing it.

Make sure that not only are those areas obstruction-free but that they also are clearly labeled so people can locate them quickly in the event of a fire. If the area is blocked, simply move the obstruction and remind people that those places need to remain open – even if they don’t serve as the most aesthetically pleasing spaces.

 Air Diffusers

Air diffusers are regularly installed near smoke detectors, but having them too close can cause a lot of problems – specifically dust and dirt build-up on a smoke detector’s sensor. Clearly, this makes it more challenging for the smoke detector to read fires. On the other hand, increased contamination can also cause a detector to trip unnecessarily, which results in lost productivity.

So while it’s OK that air diffusers are near an alarm – make sure they’re not too close.

All of these issues, thankfully – are issues that can be resolved with little effort on your part. Make sure you take these tips to heart and ensure you’re not currently experiencing any of them in your workspace.

If you want more information about this or any other topic, please contact Protegis Fire & Safety.