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Communication is key in much of our daily life. As much as we try, we sometimes have that “failure to communicate”. That said, to avoid some confusion, there is a need to let go of the term and the concept of “false alarms”.  Smoke alarm or smoke detector activations related to “culinary mishaps”, burnt popcorn, or burnt whatever in the microwave or a pot of food on the stovetop, are not false alarms. Those devices did their job. Even in the case of when steam sets those devices off, those devices did their job. Pull station activations caused by the mischievous or nefarious individuals are not false alarms. Rather, they should be referred to as nuisance or malicious alarms because that notification device did its job when pulled. Through preventive education and a little modification with the pull station, these types of responses can be reduced. There is always a reason behind fire and smoke alarm activations, from actual fire and smoke, due to cooking or some other fire incident, to nuisance, to mechanical, to waterflow from sprinkler pipe breaks, or by taking out sprinkler heads with forklifts etc. Those reasons need to be identified and documented as such, and not by using the term false alarms. In fact, any smoke alarm or smoke detector response should prompt the incident report writer to account that the occupancy had such a device and that it worked. Conversely, we need to document when an occupancy does not have working smoke alarms. We must get better with documentation. Keeping track through reporting is quite important to identify where smoke alarm needs are. Smoke alarms should be in all residential occupancies. They are lifesaving devices and offer some additional insurance to our residents. They provide early detection, if properly placed throughout the residence, whether with batteries or being hardwired and being interconnected in either case. In addition, if we’re writing grants or seeking other financial assistance, having these numbers will support the need for that assistance. Keeping track of the nuisance alarms and malicious alarms will also assist us in identifying a potential problem. One that may need education or enforcement. Having good fire safety and fire prevention habits is an everyday thing. We must continue to educate at every opportunity we have, not just during Fire Prevention Week. Sometimes, a little 5–10-minute education session will go a long way. Stay safe!

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