How to turn off and stop Fire or Smoke Alarm in a house or apartment (AVOID Doing This!)

Fire alarms are important and should be installed in every building. It is possible though that the alarm goes off without a fire. Given that the sound is very loud, you might want to turn it off. In this post, we are going to outline how you can stop a fire alarm. This is often quite easy to do.

The approach depends on the type of fire alarm that you have. Individual alarms have to be turned off in another way than central alarms.

Before you turn off the alarm you should make sure that there is no fire. Make sure to look around in every room of the building. You can also hold your hand on the walls to check if they are hot. Even if you have turned off the alarm, you should be vigilant and make sure that there is no smoke or fire. 

If there is smoke or fire, remove it before stopping the alarm. If you don’t do this, the alarm will start again as it will detect smoke. Don’t be nonchalant and make sure that there are no problems. 

How to stop an individual fire alarm in a house

If you are cooking or showering, it can be quite annoying if the fire alarm gets activated. There is often a button that allows you to reset the alarm. This button (or small latch) is often transparent or white and quite small. You might need a pencil to push it. This stops the loud noise immediately. If you don’t see this button, you can also remove the battery. You might need a Phillips screwdriver to do this though. 

Some fire alarms are wired though. You will have to look around until you see the reset button. If it is hanging on the ceiling and you don’t see it, consider taking a picture of the fire alarm. This will allow you to zoom in and see where the button is located. If you really don’t find it, you can consider turning off the electricity on the main electrical panel. 

Example of a building that had a fire recently. The fire alarm made sure that nothing worse happened. Image by PlumbingInstantFix. All rights reserved.

Take a stepladder to get access to the fire alarm. These smaller fire alarms are often connected with a magnet. It is also possible that they have used adhesive. In this case, you have to be more careful as you can damage the ceiling if you want to take it off. You can use a small pry bar or try to heat up the adhesive so that it is easier to remove. You can wear ear protection if needed. 

If you have multiple alarms going off, you will have to reset them one by one. Just repeat the same steps as outlined before and the fire alarm should stop. 

Newer fire alarms also have an app that allows you to stop the fire alarm. Just open up the app and select the button that turns off the alarm. Make sure that you always have the most recent version of this app to avoid delays. 

If you have a lot of false alarms, you can consider cleaning the fire alarm with some compressed air. You can open up your unit to do this. This can be done with a Phillips screwdriver. You can push the test button to see if everything still works once you are done.

Most fire alarms only last 7-10 years before they should be replaced.

Low battery indicator of the fire alarm

Fire alarms also chirp when their batteries are running low. The alarm is not blaring at full force. It just chirps from time to time. You can open the fire alarm (there is a door on the side) and install a new battery. These are often square 9 Volts batteries or 3 AAA batteries. The fire alarm will chirp after replacing them to confirm that the new batteries have been installed. It is a good idea to have some spare batteries as they can chirp at night as well. Not a fun way to wake up!

If the fire alarms are wired, they can have backup batteries. It is a good idea to turn off the power supply when replacing these batteries as you will have to unplug it. Then you have to remove the battery and press the reset button for 30 seconds.

Newer fire alarms can send a warning to your mobile phone if the battery is low.  Some alarms are connected and then you will have to press the button on the alarm that triggered the system.

How to turn off a Central fire alarm in a condo or apartment

How to stop the central fire alarm in a midsized building

In midsized buildings, there is often a central fire alarm. Make sure that everyone has evacuated the building before proceeding. The control panel can be found in the hallway or technical room. It typically has several warning lights. There is often a ‘reset’ or ‘stop alarm’ button. You should only press this if you are sure that there is no problem in the building. Once you have pressed the button, the alarm should stop. You should see that the warning lights on the dashboard have changed.

In some instances, you will have to reset the fire system by pressing another button. It is possible that the fire department or the management company got a warning about the alarm. You will have to discuss the situation with them.  In some instances, the panel of the fire alarm is closed and you will have to find the person that has the key to open it. 

How to stop an alarm in large buildings

In larger buildings, it might be impossible to stop the fire alarm as firefighters have to ensure that everyone is secure. You have to follow the plan and go to the designated area. Everyone is counted and the building is checked. The fire department can then deactivate the alarm and restart the elevators and other devices. They often have a special key to do this. It is also possible that they will have to repair some sensors. Firefighters should inspect these buildings and know where everything is located. If sprinklers got activated, they will have to file a report so that the damage can get fixed. Check your local procedure so that you know what you have to do when the fire alarm is activated. This whole process can take more than an hour as firefighters are diligent and want to make sure that there are no further problems. 

In this post, we have outlined how you can stop a fire alarm. You should only do this when you are sure that there is no problem. In most cases, you should just press a button. It can be a great idea to practice what you will do when a fire will start. Every few months you should do a fire drill with your family. Everyone should know where they have to go. If you have multiple stories, you have to make sure that there is a fire escalator so that everyone can escape in time. Check your extinguisher to see if the due date is approaching or not. People don’t spend enough time preparing for emergencies but it can make all the difference when you need it! The materials in your house also affect how fast it will burn down. Wood burns a lot faster than metal.