Fire Alarms - Town of Gravenhurst

Gravenhurst Fire Truck

Fire Alarms

Provincial Law Requires Smoke Alarms

Did you know that every home and cottage in Ontario must have a working smoke alarm on every floor and outside all sleeping areas. 

Homeowners

If you are a homeowner, you must install and maintain smoke alarms on every story of your home and outside sleeping areas.

Landlords

If you are a landlord, you must ensure that your rental properties comply with the law.

Tenants

If you are a tenant of a rental property, you must contact your landlord immediately if you do not have the required number of working smoke alarms.  It is against the law for tenants to remove the batteries or tamper with the alarm in any way.

Failure to comply with the Fire Code smoke alarm requirements could result in a ticket for $235.00 or a fine of up to $50,000.00 for individuals or $100,000.00 for corporations.

When installing smoke alarms, refer to the manufacturer's instructions for information about correct placement, maintenance and replacement.

  • Test your smoke alarms every month using the test button.
  • Replace smoke alarm batteries at least once a year, and whenever the low battery warning chirps.
  • Smoke alarms don't last forever.  Replace smoke alarms older than ten years old.
  • Steam from the shower or cooking in the oven, stove or toaster can cause smoke alarms to activate.  Do not remove the battery.  Instead, try moving the alarms to a difference location or purchase a smoke alarm with a hush feature that will temporarily silence the alarm.  Further information about dealing with nuisance alarms, visit Make It Stop.

False and Nuisance Fire Alarms

Fees to be invoiced effective January 1, 2018

Commencing January 1, 2018, where the fire department is called to respond to a fire alarm and no actual emergency exists, a fee for service will be applied for repeated false alarms.

In most cases, a written caution on the first occasion of a false alarm response will be issued, however upon a second false alarm response in a calendar year, an invoice will be issued and directed to the property owner representing cost recovery for the response.

Normally, at least two fire trucks are dispatched to fire alarm activations, and so these will be invoiced at the rate of $459.45 per hour per truck, plus the costs of attending fire personnel and HST.

Common Questions

What is a Preventable Fire Alarm?

For our purposes a Preventable Fire Alarm includes, an unnecessary emergency response by the fire department caused by the activation of a fire alarm system or component thereof or other similar system through mechanical failure, equipment malfunction, improper installation of the system or component, human error or failure, or a failure to maintain the system as prescribed by the Ontario Fire Code.

The fire department classifies false alarms in the following manner:

  • Accidental False Alarm - unintentional initiation of a fire alarm signal, and would include such activities as accidental operation or damage to sprinklers, heat detectors, manual pull stations etc. Not subject to billing.
  • Equipment Malfunction - the failure of fire detection equipment which results in indication of a fire alarm condition when none exists. Includes unexplained alarm activations, but does not include accidental, malicious or nuisance false alarms. Subject to billing.
  • Nuisance Alarm - initiation of an alarm of fire caused by environmental conditions other than fire, and includes such conditions as excessive smoking in an enclosed area, smudging, environmental conditions such as dusty or high humidity conditions. An alarm activation transmitted to the fire department resulting in a response which is caused by an alarm technician or other person conducting maintenance or repair activities is also classified as a nuisance alarm. Subject to billing.
  • Malicious False Alarm - the transmitting of an alarm of fire where knowingly no fire exists, by telephone, by outcry or by initiation of fire alarm equipment/component. Subject to billing in situations where preventative measure could have been implemented.

How is the Fee for Service calculated?

In Ontario, the widely accepted standard rate for a fire truck response is set by agreement with the Province of Ontario. In 2017, this rate is set at $459.45 per hour. This rate is subject to annual increases as dictated by the Province and to the application of HST. Local response protocols prescribe how many trucks respond to different types of incidents. In Gravenhurst, two trucks are normally dispatched to a fire alarm activation and so the invoice amount will reflect $459.45 per hour plus HST times 2, plus the cost of attending firefighter wages As Gravenhurst employs volunteer firefighters, these numbers can vary from incident to incident depending on firefighter availability.

Am I Invoiced for Every False Alarm?

We know that most property owners who install fire protection systems are conscientious and do not want to be the cause of unnecessary fire department responses, so beginning in January 2018, on the occasion of the first preventable alarm in a calendar year, the fire department will send a caution or warning notice to the property owner. No invoice will be issued at this point - with one exception (see below). An invoice will only be issued on the occasion of a second and any subsequent responses to false alarms.

Where a fire alarm technician who is working on a system fails to take precautions to prevent an unnecessary response, no warning or caution notice will be sent. False alarms generated by this type of human error or negligence will result in an invoice being sent to the property owner on every occasion. It will be the property owner's prerogative and responsibility to pursue any subsequent recovery from alarm companies if you choose to do so.

Will there be any consideration given to property owners who make prompt repairs to a faulty system?

Yes. Where a property owner provides the Fire Department with a copy of a paid invoice for repairs to a system (for example - replaced a faulty detector), within 30 days of the original incident, the fee will be waived completely.