Fire Department Dispatched Without Call

So…

Just had a crazy last few minutes and found out something I did not like on how the system works.

My wife and I were cooking and set a smoke detector off, no big deal right. I type my code into the system immediately to acknowledge and silence it. I grab my phone awaiting the call center to call me to check if everything is ok. Couple minutes go by and no call so I figured I typed my code in fast enough. About 5 minutes after the detector goes off I hear on the scanner the FD getting dispatched to my house. A minute later the call center calls me and asks if everything is ok, I tell them its a false alarm and asked why they didn’t call me before calling the FD. And about 5 minutes later the whole fire department shows up on my front door with me having to explain I was cooking. This could have easily been avoided by a simple phone call to me when the event happened. Just like I have it set up for PD. I have three people that get called before they are dispatched. This won’t be the last time I set off a smoke detector while cooking and I don’t want them showing up everytime and charging me for false alarms.

I am posting this hoping others read it and know they will have the FD sent for simply cooking bacon. Don’t expect a call first asking you if you need them sent.

As you can see in my settings, I have PD sent after trying to call me, my dad, and my wife. I cannot edit this setting for fire. Can this be changed on Surety’s end? If not I will have to remove the fire side of my system which I really dont want to do.

I’m sorry to hear of the frustration! We are happy to clarify.

By default, only the premise number (location phone line) is called prior to dispatch on fire alarms. If two way voice is active, this will be attempted first prior to calling the premise.

This is due to the fact that in a fire situation, seconds matter, and calling a cell contact that may not be on site to confirm or deny adds time to the response, and is based on NFPA guidelines.

You cannot currently move the Fire dispatch after cell contacts. You can optionally add a phone number as the location line, though adding a cell number there is not typically recommended.

Special instructions can be requested via the secure message tab in your system manager. Please send the contacts you wish to have dialed prior to dispatch for fire alarms and we can adjust that on your system.

Also, note that Carbon Monoxide is separate, and likewise only the location is called first to notify the residents, and as Carbon Monoxide cannot be confirmed or denied by the user, dispatch will always occur on CO alarms for safety.

Jason, thank you for clarification. I understand about the CO alarms as these are hard to detect if it is false. I will submit a secure message for my wife and I to be contacted prior to dispatching fire to the house for smoke.

Have you had any feedback on how two-way voice works on the IQ Panel 2? I am interested in it but I don’t want it to cause more of a headache. How long will they try to make contact via two-way voice before calling the contact list in a police event? I just started using the ARM Chat service. How would it work with that if I also added two-way. I am assuming two-way will be used first, then ARM chat service, then the contact list? All that seems like a lot of confusion to cancel a potential false alarm.

Probably out of our control but I have a suggestion for future changes. If system is disarmed and the smoke alarm goes off, call contact list first, then if no response send help. If system is armed stay or away and smoke is detected, assume it is real and call the FD immediately.

I’m also curious how smoke alarms are treated.

Would the fire dept. only be called if the alarm is armed? What happens when smoke detector goes off when its disarmed?

I do not have a Gold plan, so no Wireless 2-Way Voice. What should I do when a false alarm occurs while home?

David, with my event. I was home cooking, set the smoke detector off, silenced the alarm panel, then awaited a call from the call center on my cell phone. They called me after dispatching the fire department. At that point it was too late to turn the FD around. You could do like I just did, send them a message to put a note on your account to call your cell phone first for a Fire Event.

I was just suggesting sending them without calling only when in armed or stay, but calling me first when system is not armed. Most likely if I am home and awake, it will be a false alarm. If I am not home and it goes off it is most likely not a false alarm.

Probably out of our control but I have a suggestion for future changes. If system is disarmed and the smoke alarm goes off, call contact list first, then if no response send help. If system is armed stay or away and smoke is detected, assume it is real and call the FD immediately.

As life safety devices, a smoke detector’s functionality cannot be associated to whether or not the system is armed at the time, and this would not be relevant across all systems. A life safety device will result in an alarm regardless of whether the system is armed. So I don’t think this would be implemented, but we are happy to make any suggestions to manufacturers!

In this case it is best to submit special instructions, that should definitely take care of the issue you are having!

Have you had any feedback on how two-way voice works on the IQ Panel 2? I am interested in it but I don’t want it to cause more of a headache. How long will they try to make contact via two-way voice before calling the contact list in a police event? I just started using the ARM Chat service. How would it work with that if I also added two-way. I am assuming two-way will be used first, then ARM chat service, then the contact list? All that seems like a lot of confusion to cancel a potential false alarm

These are great questions!

If no one is heard in response on Two Way Voice when the CS initially connects, they will try reaching out over two way two more times, which is usually 15-30 seconds, before moving on to the call list.

ARM chat will have a bit less time to confirm/deny with Two way active. For accounts using 2-Way Voice, ARM will delay contact calls by 30 seconds. For Accounts not using 2-Way Voice ARM will delay contact calls by 90 seconds.

More related info on ARM can be found here.

Would the fire dept. only be called if the alarm is armed? What happens when smoke detector goes off when its disarmed?

No. Fire and Carbon Monoxide sensors generate an alarm whenever they are tripped, regardless of arming status at the panel.

The same process is followed regardless of arming status.

I do not have a Gold plan, so no Wireless 2-Way Voice. What should I do when a false alarm occurs while home?

Adding a Location number that will be dialed first would be one option. Otherwise as above, special instructions can be requested via your secure message tool in system manager in the Surety Dashboard here.

You can also immediately dial the central station to report a false alarm, however in some cases, Fire departments will not cancel dispatch once sent. This depends on your local fire department policy.

Jason, sorry I am a bit confused on the exact order and time frame with and without ARM/Two Way. Just for understanding purposes, would it look something like this for a Police Call with Two Way & ARM.

00:00:00 - Alarm initiated
00:00:30 - Two-Way communication initiated (15-30 seconds after alarm starts?)
00:01:00 - ARM initiated (30 seconds with no response on two-way since not near the panel)
00:01:30 - End of ARM, Start Call list since no one answered on ARM.

With just ARM and no two-way voice.

00:00:00 - Alarm initiated
00:00:30 - ARM initiated (For 90 Seconds)
00:02:00 - End of ARM, Start Call list since no one answered on ARM.

Times are obviously not accurate but basically using them to show order of events. Can they or do they perform the two-way and ARM simultaneously? one only two way, then ARM?

Is it possible to have two-way voice setup for just a fire or medical event, and for a police event use ARM? Or if I enable two-way it will be used for all events?

You are right, times are not exact and there will be slight fluctuations, but generally the following is what to expect:

ARM Sent when Alarm signal is received > 30 second hold > Two Way Voice > Contact Calls.

or

ARM Sent when Alarm signal is received > 90 second hold > Contact Calls.

With 2-Way Voice enabled, 2-Way will be used on all incoming alarm types except silent panic. Even then it triggers, but as listen only.

Jason, today the smoke alarm went off from cooking again and the monitoring company did not call like I requested to verify prior to calling 911 dispatch. They called after, saying they already called the fire department. Is there any reason why my wife did not receive the call prior to them calling the fire department like I stated in the request a year ago? Could it have not been seen by the monitoring company. Can you please verify that the special request is still on my account. It’s quite embarrassing having them show up for a false alarm when it could have been avoided by a simple call to verify first.

Hey, looking into the account it looks like this is likely an error of some sort, it appears the rule put in place for fire dispatch after verification is still on the account. I am checking with operators to determine what occurred which caused the connection failure with the two contacts listed prior to fire. I’ll follow up with you shortly!

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Thank you. They did get through to my wife but only after they made the call to dispatch first.

Keep in mind that in some states local ordinances prohibit enhanced verification of fire alarm signals. For example, since the late 90’s, the New Jersey Uniform Fire Code has prohibited verification of residential fire alarms prior to notification of the fire department. Even for areas that don’t outright ban the practice, most industry associations continue to recommend against signal verification since the inception of chapter 2-4.9.2 of NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm Code, 1996 edition. Many years ago when I worked for ADT they did not allow verification of residential fire alarm signals in any state. That may have changed today (I don’t know) but there are many reasons that life safety experts continue to advise against verification.

Ok, I see what happened. It looks like a contact was updated since then via the System Manager, and when you saved that change an error occurred with the special action instructions saved to those numbers. I’ve got that resolved for you here and looking into how the error occurred so it doesn’t happen in the future! For now avoid making changes to contacts on the professional monitoring tab.

Thank you for looking into this for me Jason.

Jason, a couple days ago my father changed the battery in my hallway PowerG smoke detector and tested it not knowing that I have a firefighter sensor listening for my internal wired system in the bedroom nearby. It set the panel off. I didn’t receive the call since I was on a vessel. My wife got the call but didn’t answer. My father got the call but it was after the fire department (911 call center) was called. He’s on the department so he called directly to cancel it since he heard the call come in on the scanner. They cleared all the trucks but still sent the supervisor to check on it.

Since this is the third time they have called 911 before the 3 people on the list, I’m guessing they don’t read the notes on the account until after they make their call to 911 to dispatch? I wish there was a way to make sure we get a call before they call 911. I’m almost to the point of removing any smoke/heat/firefighter devices from the system because of this. Could you please look into this for me?

Thanks

I’d recommend enableing 2 way voice

Happy to assist! The special instructions request that was initially submitted to us only included two contacts to be dialed prior to dispatch in the event of fire.

During the most recent alarm event, those two contacts were dialed, as there was no response operators moved on to Dispatch.

If you need to add additional contacts to the special instructions, please submit a Private Message to us and we can get that updated.