Backgrounder- False fire alarms and fire safety issues

Backgrounder- False fire alarms and fire safety issues

October 13, 2015

​Toronto Community Housing spends about $2.4 million every year on false fire alarms. The 20 buildings in Toronto Community Housing with the highest number of false fires alarms had a total of 1,300 occurrences in 2014.

Toronto Community Housing is committed to reducing the number of false fire alarms and engage with residents about how we can make communities safer and prevent fires.

What is a false fire alarm?

Toronto Fire Services defines a false fire alarm is fire alarm activated under two categories:

Malicious: fire alarms activated based on negligent or intentional misuse

Nuisance: fire alarms activated through mechanical failure, equipment malfunction, improper maintenance or installation of the system

False fire alarms by the numbers for 2014

  • 80 per cent of fire alarms in Toronto Community Housing buildings are pulled for malicious reasons.
  • The highest number of false fire alarms in a single Toronto Community Housing building was 397.
  • Buildings with large number of false fire alarms are in areas with highly condensed residential units.
  • 60 per cent false fire alarm occurrences happen between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

The impact of false fire alarms 

  • Toronto Community Housing pays about $2.4 million a year in charges for false fire alarms.
  • Toronto Fire Services charges Toronto Community Housing $1,230 for every false fire alarm.
  • Money used for capital repairs, resident services and other programs are reduced.
  • Residents are put at risk and because they unable to tell the difference between false fire alarms and real ones. 
  • False fire alarms create panic for residents.

What is Toronto Community Housing doing to reduce false fire alarms? 

To reduce false fire alarms and their negative impact on residents, Toronto Community Housing is:
  • Working with Toronto Fire Services to address false fire alarm charges in Toronto Community Housing buildings.
  • Promoting resident engagement in communities with high false alarm occurrences.
  • Discussing with residents about impacts of false fire alarms and what they can do to prevent fire in their homes.
  • Creating better relations between Toronto Community Housing, residents and Toronto Fire Services.
  • Promoting the Tenant Guide and other services to residents.


Toronto Community Housing ( is Canada's largest social housing provider, and home to nearly 60,000 households with low and moderate incomes. By providing clean, safe, well-maintained and affordable homes, Toronto Community Housing delivers better homes, better neighbourhoods and a better Toronto for all.

Media contact:
Lisa Murray, Toronto Community Housing | 416-981-4252 |