Having an automatic fire alarm system installed at your strata property might seem like a no-brainer to ensure everyone’s safety, but they can have certain drawbacks. Most importantly, they can be set off by accident, and, because they immediately alert Fire and Rescue, this can cost quite a bit of money. Today, we will look at what the false alarm charge is, how much it costs and how you can avoid it.
What is the false alarm charge and why does it exist?
False alarms, often set off by smoke coming from the kitchen or cigarettes, cost almost $50 million every year as emergency crews have to respond to each alarm. Even more shockingly, Fire and Rescue NSW reports that 97% of all emergencies called in by automatic fire alarms are unwanted.
This is why Fire and Rescue NSW charge for attending to false alarms raised by automatic alarm systems. The charge both covers part of the cost for the crew and equipment and is meant to encourage building managers and owners corporations to ensure that false alarms don’t occur.
How much is the false alarm charge and when do I have to pay it?
The false alarm charge is AUD$1,600, but you are only liable to pay it in certain circumstances. One false alarm within a 60-day period will not be charged, however you will only be asked to pay for subsequent alarms within that period. On top of that, if multiple false alarms occur within 24 hours, these will only be counted as a single instance of a false alarm and you will be charged accordingly.
You can also apply to waive your false alarm charge if you fulfill certain criteria, such as the alarm being caused by an event outside of the owners corporations control (this does not apply if a guest on the strata property caused the alarm), or providing evidence that the faulty system has been repaired or new practices implemented to reduce future false alarms.
What you can do to avoid false alarms
To learn how to avoid the false alarm charge, it is crucial to look at the main causes for false alarms, some of which include:
- Poor ventilation
- Burnt toast and cooking fumes
- Aerosol sprays
- Cigarettes and candles
- Tradespeople and cleaners
- Dust and dirty smoke detectors
- Poorly maintained system
To avoid these common triggers, FRNSW recommends the following measures:
- Never leave cooking and toasters unattended
- Avoid smoking and using aerosol sprays near smoke detectors
- Monitor activities that produce dust, heat and smoke
- Ensure proper ventilation
- Regularly maintain your automatic fire alarm system
They also recommend that the owners corporation educates all residents, workers and guests about these measures and ensures that everyone is aware of the presence of an automatic fire alarm system on the premises.
If you’re in need of a reliable and experienced strata manager to help you sort out your automatic fire alarm system or a recent false alarm charge, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team today.