05/07/2019 at 12:15 pm #38456
I am looking for some advice and guidance regarding false fire alarms.
I live in a block of six (NSW) where the alarm has been set off a number of times by tradesmen and also residence’s excessive smoke from cooking. One particular apartment has caused a number of call outs mainly from building works but also cooking, while others haven’t caused any at all.
At $1,600 a call out this is quite a stress on our Strata Account and the owners who haven’t caused any are becoming a bit disgruntled. We had previously been advised by our Strata Company that the Lot Owner was responsible for the fee but they are now saying it has to be stipulated in a By-Law.
- Does anyone have any experience of making the tradesman responsible pay for it?
- Do most strata buildings with back-to-base alarm systems have by-laws for this?
05/07/2019 at 12:31 pm #38458
- This topic was modified 1 week ago by Jimmy-T.
It wouldn’t be reasonable to invoice an occupant for a fire call out from cooking. “FRNSW does not support charges being passed on to individual occupants, although exceptions may apply.”
Does your building have the the correct type of alarms? There are several different types of alarms. Some alarms are too sensitive to false readings. Perhaps the alarms need to be replaced.05/07/2019 at 4:10 pm #38467
I believe most buildings would have a ‘False Fire Alarm’ by law.
Our buildings by law says “…the power to recover from the responsible owner, all false alarm charges imposed by the NSW Fire Brigade…”
In your case, if your building had a similar by law you could demand payment from the owner, not the tradesperson, as the OC has not employed the tradesperson, the owner has.
The owner may them make a claim against the tradesperson.05/07/2019 at 11:00 pm #38469
In my opinion (1) the false fire alarm invoice from cooking should not be passed on to the Lot owner unless there is a “Recovery of cost of false alarm” by-law.
(2) the Lot owner can be invoiced for the trades person’s activities in triggering the false fire alarm even if there is no “False alarm” by-law as the Lot owner should probably have an approved by-law covering the renovation which would compensate the OC for any damage to the common property.
It would also be advisable to provide advice to Lot owners as to how they can reduce their exposure to false call outs, particularly when a renovation is taking place. Perhaps brochures such as this can be displayed in a prominent place in the building and/or provided to all Lot owners: https://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/gallery/files/pdf/business/Unwanted%20alarms%20brochure.pdf
False fire alarms can be caused by some alarms being overly sensitive, some are the incorrect type, some are located in inappropriate locations e.g. too close to the cooking areas, some may not be of sufficient design to allow the delineation of cooking by-product versus fire smoke, and some are poorly maintained. It would be wise to have these issues investigated by a competent authority.
While a strata scheme that has a “Recovery of false fire alarm” by-law in place may issue a “False alarm” invoice to a Lot owner this invoice can always be disputed by an Lot owner if the Lot owner believes it to be unreasonably applied.
In general, if an owner disputes a charge, they should pay the disputed amount (to preserve their voting rights and avoid the imposition of overdue charges and debt recovery costs) and then they can challenge the amount first with the owner’s corporation and then through NCAT if necessary.
Apparently only 1.3% of call outs are for real fires, with the remainder being false alarms.