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More on fire department dispatch call back policy
October 6, 2022
More on fire department dispatch call back policy
            Another dispatch fire call back story that indicates the danger of cancelling fire dispatch after initial alarm. 
            Many years ago, on Halloween night, our previous monitoring center partner dispatched on a residential fire alarm signal.  Upscale home in a nice neighborhood. Smoke detector from a basement in-law suite.  Elderly father lived in the basement suite.  Fire Signal was promptly dispatched.  First call number was reached shortly after dispatch.  Son was trick or treating with their young kids, in the same neighborhood.  The voice tapes are chilling.  You can hear the fire truck sirens in the distance in-route to the home.  Son told the dispatchers that his father was at the home and probably burned food while cooking dinner.  Told the dispatcher to cancel the fire alarm dispatch and that he would check it out shortly as he was in the neighborhood and would head back to the house. 
            The FD response terminated the run.  It was an actual fire in the basement unit.  Father perished in the fire. 
            We no longer allow any fire alarm cancellation from anyone not actually at the premise.  Even with someone on site attempting to cancel, our operators will insist that we allow FD to continue with the response to check on all areas of the home. 
            Many of our fire dispatch municipalities will not cancel once the dispatch is made.  This can be a tough situation, as there are situations where there is a clear case of someone burning food in the kitchen, or first burn of wood in fireplace for the season without opening damper.  They are on site and think they have a clear understanding of the source of the smoke alarm, and that it is indeed a false alarm.  Customers are unhappy if either alarm company or FD refuses to stop dispatch, due to embarrassment and false alarm fines.  We never want a repeat of the above, so those calls are escalated to management, and we explain the story and the reasons for our policies.
            Please don’t list name or identify company for this story, if used.  Thanks.
Name withheld
            Thanks for the chilling story and cogent explanation for your policy.  I haven’t heard about any on-site verification process for fire but seems like there should be something available; video maybe?  Whatever the policy make sure the customer is aware of it to avoid misunderstanding and extreme irritation. 

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301