Tags: false alarm, automatic alarm system, smoke detector, fire brigade

Australia has a high rate of false alarm since the Automatic Fire Alarm (AFA) system was deployed. According to the Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW), there were approximately 48,000 AFAs last financial year, and 97% of these alarms were identified as the false alarm. So it is estimated that 46,560 call-outs were actually caused by the false alarm.

Although the government requires the AFA system should be compulsively implemented in order to save lives, it seems the system is unable to work well.


The government department

The 46,560 call-outs cost the taxpayer almost $143 million last year. Although the false alarm charge has increased to $1250, it is still unable to cover the full cost of an emergency call out, which is estimated $3083 for each false alarm. Hence, the government needed to subsidize approximately $85 million to the call-outs of the fire trucks.

An FRNSW spokeswoman said to The Daily Telegraph “AFA false activations have the potential to reduce the availability of firefighting resources and delay their response to a genuine emergency.” Many residents even remove the smoke detector in their accommodation in order to get free from the fines.

In 2013, a statistic shows that 9686 false alarms were triggered by trivial domestic incidents. The fire crews are required by law that they have to response to every alarm no matter how trivial the incident is. That means even if you were cooking in your kitchen or having a shower in your bathroom, it could also probably activate the detector and cause the fine of $1250.

The residents

Albert Huang is an international student in the UTS. He is living in an apartment in the city area. A few weeks ago when he was frying a steak, the fire alarm outside the door went off. This has been the third time the fire alarm rang since he moved in this flat two months ago. The last two times have been proved as a false alarm, so he chose to stay in the room rather than evacuate.

The alarm was soon seized by the fire brigade and it once again identified as a false alarm.  However, after a few minutes, the building manager knocked at his door and informed him he has to pay $1250 as the fine of false alarm.

Although the detector in his department has been dismantled by his landlord, the cooking fumes still leaked out through the crack of the door and triggered the alarm in the corridor.

Another student Tony Gu told the reporter that he moved three times since he came to Sydney. The smoke detectors have been removed by the landlord in every apartment he rented without his consent.

“I am okay with that because I would love to cook at home. When I was cooking Chinese cuisine in my apartment, I would not have to worry about the smoke anymore.” Tony said.


Building owner or manager

According to the law, the building owners or managers have the obligation to inspect and maintain every smoke detector in function. However, many of them did not perform well.

“The manager checked the detector in my room once. But he did not fix it even if he said so.” Tony said.


The interviewees

I have done several interviews with two residents., Albert Huang and Tony Gu. Furthermore, I would interview the FRNSW officer and several building managers to complete my interview.

Online delivery

The feature I am about to write is an investigation, which could have numerous critiques on the current governance. So the great lefty-curmudgeonly Fairfax, The Sydney Morning Herald, is an ideal publication.

I would like to use the diagram or maps to elaborate the complicated statistics. Additionally, I would also use hyperlinks to indicate the sources of my research.

Post by Xusheng Liu (Lux)

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