Photo of an old red metal sign with 'Sprinkler Stop Valve Inside' in writing.

How to stop a fire alarm

For the past few months my home has been plagued by a persistent nearby fire alarm.

The first time this happened was around 12 months ago. It went off for a few hours in the evening before stopping, and I thought not more of it.

But then it happened several more times. Most memorably in mid 2023 when it happened no fewer than five times over the space of three days – including starting off at 3am and continuing right through until around 10.

The distinctive wailing of the alarm went for only a 3-4 seconds before being interrupted by an automated male voice saying “evacuate, evacuate” – before the alarm started up again and the cycle repeated.

After eight hours of this on repeat it does start to drive you up the wall.

Normally I wouldn’t care that much but this particular alarm is very loud and appears to be oriented in such a way that the sounds blare straight through my bedroom window.

Endless noise

Each time this happened I wasn’t really sure what to do. My extensive internet search did not come up with very clear answers on what to do if there is an unattended alarm at a property that is not your own. I found advice from the EPA, Council, Legal Aid, Fire Rescue Victoria and Victoria Police – none of which contained clear guidance.

So at this point – it was 11pm by now – I called the non-urgent Police Assistance Line. The operator took my details and the details of the incident, noting that the alarm had been going for about five hours and there was clearly no real fire emergency.

The main problem here was that I did not know the exact location of the alarm. It could have been one of a couple of buildings nearby but there was no way at the time of confirming.

Given this he transferred me to 000. As he did so, the first operator told me to call them directly in the future should I hear any alarms. Having been put through, I told this second operator the situation and gave a rough estimated location.

Very soon a couple of fire trucks showed up. Apparently they tried to find the alarm’s source as well but couldn’t figure it out. They eventually left and the alarm continued into the night and through to the next morning when it finally stopped at about 8:30am.

This happened two more times when I had to call 000 but the alarms always kept starting up again. I did walks around the area myself trying to find the source but to no avail.

It quietened down for a month or two and I thought all was over. But after this deceptive period of peace and quiet, the dreaded alarm started right up again recently.

Because this time it started during business hours on a weekday, I figured that someone would attend to it pretty quickly. Unfortunately it became clear after about an hour and a half that this wasn’t going to happen.

So I decided to figure this out once and for all.

Finding a solution

This was during daylight hours so I went into all the buildings nearby that were open. I couldn’t see any flashing lights, people evacuating, smoke, or any other sign that an alarm was in any specific structure. Eventually I just took to going into random buildings and trying my luck.

Finally then I found the source after going up and down random lifts. Turns out it was on the roof – not inside any habitable room – which is why it hadn’t been picked up. I have no idea what an alarm was doing outside, but there you go.

There were no contact or other details on who owned the building inside or outside and the internet didn’t bring up any results. But there was a real estate sign with a company’s name on it so I figured I would try my luck.

After going through four separate switchboards for this company (including one in Perth for some reason) I finally reached the right person. He confirmed that yes, they did manage the property and would get the siren fixed as soon as possible.

Then, four hours later, it finally stopped. Hopefully, this time, for good.

Unfortunately if you’re facing a similar situation I can’t offer any wisdom other than call 000 if needed and try some old-fashioned detective work to figure out a solution.


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Steve Agerreply
10 May, 2024 at 8:39 am

I would have hoped the bloke you tracked down at least said sorry for the noise! Nice piece of detective work though, I have heard spray foam in the alarm may assist in diminished noise output.

10 May, 2024 at 11:20 am

In a building of any size the alarm would be connected through a fire panel to the fire service and trucks would quickly turn up to check for fires and if it was a false alarm, charge the building a couple of thousand dollar. I wonder how that did not happen. It also seems very odd that an alarm was on the roof.

10 May, 2024 at 2:37 pm

How annoying!Great work on finding that alarm.

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