False alarms

When a fire or security alarm goes off, first responders (fire or RCMP) are dispatched. A false alarm is when first responders find that there is no evidence that a fire or security incident happened.

False alarm call-outs use significant fire department or RCMP time. In North Cowichan, a full complement of paid-on-call firefighters are called out to respond. This can have an even greater impact, as many paid-on-call firefighters work at other jobs and have to leave work to attend a call.

False alarms can happen once in a very long while, or they can happen frequently.

How you can reduce false alarms

  • Ensure people using the system know how to arm and disarm the alarm, have contact information for the alarm company to cancel an alarm, and that they have the right passcode(s).
  • Replace batteries and check for loose connections and switches. Ensure you have up to date pass codes and phone numbers for your alarm company so you can call and cancel the first responders before they respond
  • Ensure things like open windows and pets are considered when installing a security system.
  • Alarm monitoring agencies need to confirm the alarm is not false before dispatching first responders.

Remember: A properly functioning security alarm is the responsibility of the owner of the system. First responders should not be considered a security company.

How we handle false alarms

A warning letter will be sent for a second false alarm in a 12-month period. The third – and each subsequent -- false alarm for a 12-month period generates a $500 fee, and each false alarm after that is an additional $500 fee.

Alarm monitoring agencies can be charged a $1,000 fee for not verifying the alarm is false or ensuring the owner/occupier or person responsible is attending the property.

Regulations on false alarms