Our response seems "typical" to what's been posted. We run 1 and 1 to all activated alarms and bump to a full 1st Alarm on all Nursing Homes, Elderly Housing, Hotels and Schools. One of the two officers goes to FACP if a remote annunciator isn't conveniently located. Due to short staffing all hands check the zone or alarm device, adjacent units/areas and the floor above and below.
My FD used to require a specific coded key for all FACP locks so we had only one to carry as we do reset alarms. In my experience, given our fairly small city and the rural area around, many owners have inadequate RP's for the buildings and will refuse to come out at night to correct issues. The "home rule" nature of a rural area keeps the City form attaching fines or thinking about forcefully making people correct issues (it is getting better though).
At the FACP we find the alarm system type, device types, zone maps or device maps, requisite telephone numbers (always up to date, right?) keys or Allen wrenches for pull stations and directions for the FACP. This is pretty standard in all but real old systems. If anything else is needed our dispatch calls the alarm company.
As I said, we reset the system whenever we can do so without disabling zones or devices. We've yet to be "burned" by this. What types of issues has this brought about for others? Our bigger issue is finding systems reset prior to arrival where occupants have no clue about the system. Very often they point to a heat detector and say someone was smoking right near here so we reset it! Or assume a child pulled an alarm when it was a detector trip.
Yes, the issue of educating the public about resetting alarms is a problem. We've found this to be especially true in the cases of stores and fast food joints where their first concern is keeping customers at the registers. Most of the time we have no repeat offenders and all new businesses that are inspected by our FD get a speech on our expectations during activated alarms. This has worked well except a large number of new businesses occupy previous spaces where if there is not a "change of use" an inspection doesn't take place.You mention that the alarm is sometimes reset before you arrive. That is one of the key things that we need to educate building employees about. Once that alarm is reset, we have no indication as to where the detector or head activated or even if it was a detector or head. It is OK for them to silence the alarm, but never to reset it.
You mention that "many owners have inadequate RP's for the buildings". Pardon my ignorance, but what are "RP's". Frank