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Local fire department using false alarms as teaching opportunities

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Fire crews responded to a false alarm at Bed Bath & Beyond Wednesday, Feb. 17. Photo courtesy Chelsy Alldredge.

AMMON — Fire crews have responded to multiple calls this past week only to realize that the majority have been false alarms.

Accidental activations of alarms can be a disruption for police departments, fire departments, alarm companies and local governments but the Ammon Fire Department uses the calls to their advantage.

“False alarms aren’t a waste as they provide excellent training opportunities for our firefighters,” Ammon Fire Marshal Keith Banda tells EastIdahoNews.com. “Practicing our approach shaves seconds off of response time and allows our firefighters the ability to familiarize themselves with building, hydrant locations and access points.”

Banda says false alarms are caused primarily by technological, installation and user errors. Other causes are steam or burned food.

Sometimes sensors used to detect water flow in ceiling sprinkler systems can set off an alarm.

“Fluctuation in city water pressure, caused by city wells turning on and off, can trigger a flow sensor in a building’s sprinkler systems,” Banda says.

Banda says approximately forty percent of calls are false alarms and insists they aren’t a nuisance as long as they aren’t repeatedly called to the same location.

If a fire alarm is determined to be false while crews are in route, response may be downgraded but a fire department employee must respond to all false alarms to clear the call.

“We need to determine if there is an actual fire or not and if not, we need to determine the cause of the false alarm,” Banda says.

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