Help ringing ouch fire alarm
October 29, 2008 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Help my friend -- fire alarm won't stop and she can't sleep -- apartment managers won't help.

My friend needs some self-help advice on getting a fire alarm to turn off. The fire alarm, she tells me, looks something like this. It's in her apartment and has been ringing since yesterday. She can't sleep, and her dog is freaking out. The management says they'll get to it tomorrow. She can't reach the device independently, but has a friend and a stepladder. What should the friend do other than smash the damn thing?
posted by ClaudiaCenter to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Call the fire department. They may be able to reset the alarm, but at the very least, they could advise your friend.
posted by Monday at 4:09 PM on October 29, 2008

If you yank the entire red plastic cap (not the red metal part against the wall in your picture) it should stop. You maybe able to do this by hand - a hammer will certainly do it. The siren is in the plastic part.

That said, your friend should:

1. Make sure the landlords can't trace the vandalism (it is vandalism) back to her.

2. Complain, complain, complain, until her landlord pro-rates her the 24 or 48 hours that her apartment has basically been uninhabitable. Depending on her rent, this could be a reasonably handy sum of money...
posted by wfrgms at 4:10 PM on October 29, 2008

She should call the fire department. I monkeyed with the fire alarm in my building once (turned it off because it was going off falsely) - and the fireman gave me a very stern talking-to. I'm not sure it's legal for her to mess with it.
posted by gnutron at 4:10 PM on October 29, 2008

Best answer: Seconding the fire department. That system is hard-wired. Short of disabling the system for the whole building (because, that looks like an institutional alarm, and not one supplied for a single tenant) -- which would be tampering, and is a very bad thing -- there's nothing she'll be able to do.

She should call the fire department under the guise of being "concerned" about why it's continually going off. That'll get them out there quicker.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:12 PM on October 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Call the Fire Department's non emergency number over and over if need be. Maybe even tell the landlord you fear for your safety and that's why you're calling (If it gives a false positive it may give a false negative in the future). The building owners may be liable for fines if it's not connected/functioning properly when the fire department inspects it.

The FD will respond, an alarm did the same thing in my apartment last year, though it automatically contacted the FD. The building had a work crew out there ten minutes after the fire trucks rolled in and worked all night on it.
posted by Science! at 4:15 PM on October 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Crappy management company. Let them know Fire Department is being called and invite them to beat them there to get around whatever fine may or may not be levied.

No, not really. That's antagonistic. Do call the management company and say that tomorrow isn't good enough, the apartment is unlivable with a klaxon going off in it, the health (mental, aural) of the occupants is endangered, and the lack of functionality is a concern. Thusly, they've got [insert short period of time 2hrs] until Fire Department is called to sort it out.
posted by batmonkey at 4:17 PM on October 29, 2008

nth call the FD. They'll probably give the management company at least a warning if not a citation or a fine. False alarms degrade the FD's ability to respond to real emergencies.
posted by jjb at 4:33 PM on October 29, 2008

Best answer: While the fire department or the landlord takes care of it, use duct tape to cover the whole alarm with a pillow, dirty laundry or even a lot of crumpled newspaper. We did this when we moved into an apartment still under construction, where they would 'test' the fire alarms a few times every day.

It wont completely silence it, but it becoems a background noise you can ignore.
posted by dirty lies at 5:13 PM on October 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Maybe rather than calling the fire department, contact whatever local agency deals with rental unit inspections. They may see this as a high-priority safety threat and be able to lean on the property owner to get it fixed ASAP with a threat of fines. I suppose how they respond my differ from place to place, but I have heard that in my town they take rental unit safety issues pretty seriously and respond quickly.
posted by glycolized at 5:32 PM on October 29, 2008

call the management company and tell them to put your friend up in a hotel until they fix the alarm. if they don't, she can probably call whatever department deals with noise complaints and have them come out and give it a decibel reading. they'll fine the management company.
posted by thinkingwoman at 6:27 PM on October 29, 2008 [3 favorites]

Call Fire Department (not 911 obviously) / Building Management . Currently you don't have a working fire alarm. If there is a fire, you will not know about it. This is BAD.
posted by defcom1 at 6:36 PM on October 29, 2008

Just take it off the wall and spice the wires thru
you will see 4 terminals
2 wires are on one set of screws(you will see a metal band connecting the two screws) take them off spice them togeather
the other pair of wires are under the other set of screws take em off spice them together
either that or go to the panel and push silence
posted by SatansCabanaboy at 6:40 PM on October 29, 2008

Call the fire department - 911. Hard wired alarms like that may be triggered by fire sensors in any part of the building, not just your apartment. There could be a fire anywhere in the building. A fire alarm should not be ignored. The managers are endangering lives by not addressing it immediately.

If it turns out to be a false alarm, the apartment managers may be billed for a false alarm, not you.
posted by JackFlash at 6:49 PM on October 29, 2008 [2 favorites]

Call the Fire Marshal, of your local city or county government.
They enforce the fire codes that buildings must comply with.
Ask them what to do about it.

Do not attempt to rewire the alarm unit: it operates on 110 volts,
and is almost certainly wired to the lighting circuit, so that it can
not be selectively disabled.
posted by the Real Dan at 7:10 PM on October 29, 2008

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