Leaky Pipe Leads Firefighters To Discover Disabled Fire Alarm System

Incident Type
Water Leak
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 10:13pm
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 10:20pm
3000 Block Cimarron Trail
Madison, WI

A call for a broken water pipe led firefighters to discover another problem lurking in a westside apartment complex Tuesday: The fire alarm system was disabled.

It’s unknown how long the alarm system hadn’t been functioning before Ladder Company 7 responded to 3064 Cimarron Trail. A resident escorted firefighters to the basement-level water leak, which was causing icy buildup near a garage. Firefighters shut off water service to the building to get the leak under control until they could locate the specific valve feeding the leaky pipe. As they searched for the right valve, Ladder Company 7 followed the pipe’s supply line back to a utility room.

After isolating the leak and restoring water service to the entire building, one astute firefighter noticed the building’s fire alarm panel blinking a yellow light indicating “trouble” mode. The crew attempted to reset the alarm, but that didn’t fix the problem. They noticed a button on the panel labeled “disable” was activated, and when they pressed it to re-enable the system, fire alarms began to sound.

Ladder 7 silenced the alarm, and then they attempted to reach out to the security company to figure out what was wrong with the system. The alarm company did not recognize the property as one of its clients, and firefighters were unable to locate a building owner to help them sort through the issue and restore the system. Messages were left at the contact numbers available to firefighters.

The crew went door to door to reach out to all occupants and told them to call 911 if they noticed any signs of smoke or fire in the building. The initial caller who reported the water leak was asked to assume “fire watch” duties for the evening, and he obliged.

Safety Tip: Even if your building has an automatic fire alarm system, battery-powered smoke alarms add an extra layer of protection. Be sure to equip your living space, including each sleeping area, with smoke alarms powered by tamper-proof 10-year lithium ion batteries. Renters, ask your landlord and/or property manager to routinely check your building’s alarm system to make sure it’s functioning properly and will alert you when there’s a fire.

Posted 02/07/2018 - 9:08am

Cynthia Schuster (Public Information Officer)