False or Needless Fire Alarms

False and needless activation of the fire alarm system is disruptive to the teaching and research mission of the University and contributes to a dangerous complacency in occupants, who do not evacuate when the alarm sounds. New fire alarm technology at the UW provides a safer work place with more detectors that are less prone to false activation. However, the new systems will still alarm unnecessarily if smoke sensors are exposed to significant amounts of dust or steam.

Campus-wide fire alarm statistics indicate that dust, steam, and other airborne particles are the leading cause of false alarms.

Offices, lunch rooms, laboratories, research shops, construction areas, and dormitories have experienced unnecessary alarms. If a dust or steam producing activity cannot be avoided, please assess the proximity of fire detection in the area and call Facilities Services at (206) 685-1411 and request that detectors be temporarily bypassed or covered to avoid a false alarm. Do not attempt to cover the detectors yourself.

See Focus Sheet: False Fire Alarms (PDF) for more information on false alarms.

Please take precautions to help prevent false alarms and report problems to EH&S Building and Fire Safety at (206) 543-0465.