Fire Alarms

Provincial law requires smoke alarms

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 storey 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, 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 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 $360 or a fine of up to $50,000.00 for individuals or $100,000.00 for corporations.

Placement, maintenance and replacement

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

Things to remember

Remember to:

  • Test your smoke alarms every month using the test button.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are older than ten years.
  • Change your clocks, change your batteries.

Nuisance alarms

Steam from the shower or cooking in the oven, stove or toaster can activate smoke alarms. Do not remove the battery. Instead, try moving the alarm to a different place or purchase a smoke alarm with a hush feature that will temporarily silence the alarm. For further information about dealing with nuisance alarms, visit Make It Stop.

False and nuisance fire alarms to be invoiced

When we are called to respond to a fire alarm and there is no actual emergency, a fee for service will be applied for repeated false alarms. In most cases, a written caution will be issued for the first offence. However, upon a second offence in a calendar year, an invoice will be sent to the property owner for a cost recovery of the response. Normally, at least two fire trucks are sent to fire alarm activations and these will be invoiced at $465.42 per hour per truck plus the costs of firefighters and HST.

Common questions regarding alarm billing

What is a preventable fire alarm?

A preventable fire alarm is an unnecessary response caused by the activation of a fire alarm system or a part of the system through:

  • mechanical failure
  • equipment malfunction
  • improper installation
  • human error
  • a failure to maintain the system according to the Ontario Fire Code.

We classify false alarms as:

  • Accidental false alarm – an unintentional activation of a fire alarm including but not limited to, accidental discharge or damage to sprinklers, heat detectors, and manual pull stations, etc. These are not subject to billing.
  • Equipment malfunction – the failure of fire detection equipment resulting in fire alarm activation when an emergency condition does not exist. This includes unexplained alarm activations but does not include accidental, malicious or nuisance false alarms. These are subject to billing.
  • Nuisance alarm – fire alarm activation by environmental or man-made conditions including but not limited to excessive smoking in an enclosed area, smudging, dusty or high humidity conditions. An alarm activation received as a result of conducting maintenance or repairs by an alarm technician or other party is also deemed a nuisance alarm. These are 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. These are subject to billing in situations where preventative measures could have been taken.

How is the fee for service calculated?

The widely accepted standard rate for a fire truck response is set by an agreement with the Province of Ontario. In 2018, this rate is set at $465.42 per hour. This rate is subject to annual increases by the Province as well as HST. Two trucks are normally dispatched to a fire alarm activation so the invoice would be $465.42 plus HST times two, plus the cost of firefighter wages. Since we employ volunteer firefighters, these numbers can vary from incident to incident.

Am I invoiced for every false alarm?

Most property owners who install fire protection systems are conscientious and do not want us to respond unnecessarily. Beginning in January, 2018, for the first preventable alarm in a calendar year, we will send a warning notice to the property owner. No invoice will be issued at this point, with one exception (see below). An invoice will be sent on the second and any additional response 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 notice will be sent. False alarms caused 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 responsibility to pursue any kind of recovery from alarm companies.

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

Yes. Where a property owner provides us with a copy of a paid invoice for repairs to a system within thirty days of the original incident, the fee will be completely waived.

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