Hush those unwanted alarms

February 3, 2021

At our recent Fire and Life Safety Expo, Andy Turner from C-Tec spoke to us about the success of their ‘Hush Button’.

Hush those false alarms

Unwanted alarms divert fire services from real fires. Based on UK figures, 10% of attended incidents are false or unwanted alarms. Within an apartment building unwanted alarms can often be as a result of tenant’s activities such as toasting smoke, candles, cooking fumes but the main ones are a build-up of dust or steam from bathrooms.

In an apartment building when a real fire occurs there is the concern that where a fire starts in one dwelling it can quickly spread to another, as we have seen on too many occasions. False alarms create panic and worry for residents and challenges for the fire service.

False alarms can also cause disruption of business, shut down of a factory and the cost of added time to get up and running again. Criminals will set off alarms to steal and this can cause unnecessary evacuation of buildings, panic and injury sometimes. Also when a business has too many false alarms, the staff might not react correctly should a real fire occur. The Hush button can help reduce these false alarms.

The Installer

The role of the installer is to install the alarm system in accordance with the requirements of the designers. However, if the installer identifies conditions in the building that might result in an issue of false alarms then it is up to them to address the situation. Many regulations allow for the limitation of false alarms, a facility to disable or reduce the sensitivity of smoke detectors at times when false alarms are likely (e.g. when carpets are being fitted and there will be lots of dust).

Likely scenario

Andy talked us through the more likely scenarios where the risk of false alarm. He spoke about leaving kitchen doors open to a hall where the alarm could go off when cooking. Or a bathroom leading to a landing where steam could activate the alarm. Outside of the home, a canteen in a factory or student accommodation could activate a heat detector in the kitchen causing an alarm. Within shared or sheltered housing, cooking fumes & steam issues in communal areas regularly set off false alarms


Smoke detection systems that offer better immunity to false alarms are the solution. However, a smoke detector with a silence button will probably be on the ceiling and trying to find a ladder to access it will be an issue. The best solution is to have a Hush Button on a wall panel that is easily accessible by the occupant. Andy went through the systems including a communal (mixed) system and how to cover the core points and detectors.

The hush button fire alarm solution.

This system uses ready available, cost effective open protocol fire alarm technology. It is a fully monitored single zone conventional fire alarm system that can sit on a communal fire alarm panels addressable loop. The use of analogue fire system technology offers higher unwanted alarm immunity with the capability of configuring warning devices for phased evacuation.

An example he shared with us was a common situation around a hotel kitchen where some smoke from cooking might set off an alarm. With a hush button installed the staff can within seconds silence the sounders, clear the situation, open windows and thus avoid unnecessary evaluation of the hotel.

If a smoke alarm goes off within the apartment and you believe it to be false, you will silence it by pushing the hush button. It will stay silent for 2 minutes and 15 seconds before then, a buzzer will let you know that the full alarm is going to come on again. You can hit the hush button again for another 2 minutes or let the alarm go if there is a real issue.

If you are going to have some activity that might set off the alarm you can also use the button to hush any potential alarm for 15 minutes. Ideal if you are fitting carpets or know there will be a smoke issue in a kitchen. However, if a real fire does start the hush button will be automatically over road.

The Hush Button is easy to install and maintain and it naturally complies with all relevant regulations. Its neat appearance is a big selling point and with such great results so far it is not surprising that this innovative product is becoming more popular in Ireland.

For more information on Hush Button and fire alarm systems you can speak with the expert team at Northwood Technology.