Firefighters find false alarms more than annoying

Deploying firefighting resources to the site of false alarms—often caused by poor maintenance—consumes valuable time, fuel, and money.

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff August 26, 2008

The morning of Friday, Aug. 23, firefighters in Pottsville Pa., responded to two alarms. Both turned out to be false alarms—one accidentally set off by a maintenance crew fixing a mall’s sprinkler system, the other pulled by a child.

The city has seen a jump in false alarms over the past year, due to a number of reasons–malfunctions due to poor maintenance, construction debris, insects, and mischievous youngsters among them.

According to Pottsville Fire Chief Todd March, false alarms annoy the mostly volunteer fire staff, but it also eats up the department’s already limited fuel budget. Coupled with soaring gas prices, the false alarms could cause the department to exceed its annual fuel budget of $17,000—as of July 31, it’s already burned through more than $12,000.