April 7, 2016
Over the past decade we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of monitored alarm systems within
the Aspen Fire Protection District. While this has put more life safety devices in homes than ever
before, we are now seeing an increase in false alarms as these systems age. Several years ago we
began receiving false alarm calls from these systems and those calls have been increasing each year.
This prompted us to step back and ask what was causing these alarms and is there a danger to the
We realized that alarm systems were being installed but some were not maintained. In the
majority of homes the alarm components were only seeing servicing after reaching end of life or
once they became an nuisance. This also raised our concern of alarm systems that may not be
reacting at all so that a dangerous condition may go unreported, thus putting its residents at risk.
Once we had identified the problem we knew we needed to change how alarm systems were
approached in our district. The answer was already in place and had been since the Aspen Fire
Protection District, City of Aspen, and Pitkin County had all first adopted the International Fire
Code® beginning in 2003. Prior to that it had also been addressed in the Uniform Fire Code™. The
International Fire Code® references NFPA 72 as the standard for installation and maintenance of fire
alarm systems. The standard of maintenance found in NFPA 72 also guides the design,
manufacturing, and certified listings of the different alarm components, so the system installed in
your home was not designed to function without scheduled maintenance. This maintenance schedule
only addresses the required life safety devices and does not include the security components.
Realizing that alarm system maintenance is not just a good idea but a necessity, we have elected to
highlight this long standing code requirement for the life safety of those that rely on these systems to
protect their guests, friends, and family members.
We feel lucky that our motivation to emphasize this code requirement grew from false alarms and not
from an injury or loss of life due to a failed alarm system. I hope you understand where we are
coming from and I invite any questions or concerns you may have.
Deputy Chief / Fire Marshal
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