fire alarmFire Alarm Systems

Alarm registration

Individuals and businesses are charged $10 per year for their fire alarm system and $10 for their police alarm system. Failure to register will incur a $100 fine. See Burglar & Fire Alarm Registration to download an application.

Fire alarm system & extinguisher maintenance

Updated Fire Alarm System & Extinguisher Policy 11/12/12

Updated Automatic Sprinkler &Standpipe System Policy 11/12/12

Section 900 of the MSFC requires that all fire alarm systems and portable fire extinguishers be maintained in good operating condition and be serviced annually.

Fire Alarm Systems

Annual service and testing is required by an authorized service technician in accordance with nationally recognized standards.

A copy of all service and maintenance reports shall be kept on the premises for a minimum of five years for review by the fire department.

Portable Fire Extinguishers

Annual service is required by a trained service technician in accordance with nationally recognized standards.

A monthly visual inspection of each extinguisher should be performed to insure:

  • It is in its proper location
  • Access to and visibility is not obstructed
  • Seals or tamper indicators are intact
  • Pressure gauge is in the normal range
  • It is free of any obvious physical damage

If any problems are found that could make the extinguisher inoperative or dangerous to operate, it should be removed from service until repairs can be made.

Note: Any time an extinguisher is removed for service, a replacement extinguisher should immediately be provided.

Responding to false fire alarms

False alarm resource guide

Updated False Fire Alarm Policy 11/12/12

To ensure the highest degree of safety for the owners and residents of buildings with fire alarm systems, we will be using the following procedures when called to a false alarm:

Water flow alarm (sprinklers)

  • Water flowing: Assist the owner and occupants as necessary to preserve personal property and the building.
  • No water flowing: Notify a representative of the building owner and occupant.

Automatic Fire Alarms (smoke & heat detectors)

We will assist in the removal of smoke and/or resetting the system, reminding the manager that detectors should be covered to protect them while dust is being produced.

In the event of an unknown cause or storm related alarms, we will do everything we can to determine why the fire alarm system activated. If there is no apparent reason for the alarm, the fire department will not attempt to reset the system. We will require the occupant to call a qualified service technician to determine why the fire alarm system activated and to make proper repairs. The service company will be required to complete a report stating why the alarm went off, how the problem was remedied and what things should be done to keep this from happening again.

Until the qualified service technician arrives, the fire department will maintain a fire watch in the affected area. The owner of the property will be required to pay a fee for this service. The fee is $30/hour with a two hour minimum. If authorization to call for service cannot be obtained, a standby firefighter shall be assigned for however long it takes to get a qualified technician on site.

Exception 1: If the owners representative agrees, the fire department will call a service company that has agreed to respond in less than one hour. If this is the case, the owners representative may provide the fire watch. The owner will be billed by the fire alarm service company.

Exception 2: If the fire alarm company normally servicing a specific system can guarantee one hour service, the owner's representative may provide the fire watch.

False fire alarm billing policy

The City of Hopkins bills you for false fire alarms.

The Hopkins Fire Department averages 160 false alarm calls per year. This is over 40% of our total fire calls. More than half of these false alarms are preventable or can be eliminated with proper maintenance of fire alarms. Excessive alarms such as this:

  • Cost the city's taxpayers money
  • Endangers personnel while responding in an emergency manner
  • Leads to a lackadaisical attitude of building occupants
  • Can be very upsetting to your tenants

Can I disconnect my fire alarm system?

No. Your fire alarm system is required by law. It must be maintained in operable condition.

Can I stop calling the Fire Department?

Yes, but there is a catch. The Minnesota State Fire Code allows the fire department to require that your fire alarm system be hooked directly into a monitoring company. If you have a fire sprinkler system, you should already be tied in somewhere. If you have a fire alarm system only, you may not be remotely monitored. It is the policy of the Hopkins Fire Department not to require remote monitoring of fire alarm systems unless one of the following conditions exist.

  • The fire alarm system was activated and the fire department was not called.
  • The fire alarm system was activated and the fire department did not receive a call until the system had been ringing for 5 or more minutes.
  • The building operator has a policy that discourages the tenants from calling the fire department when the fire alarm system is activated.
  • The building or occupants are considered a high risk.
  • The resident manager or caretaker reset the system prior to the fire departments arrival.

Will I get billed every time my fire alarm system goes off?

No. The intent of the policy is not to bill property owners for false alarms. We want to cut down on the number of false alarms.

You will not be billed for:

  • The first three fire alarms within the first 90 days of activating a new fire alarm system
  • The first false alarm of a calendar year
  • Burnt food
  • Non-chronic malicious false alarms
  • Storm and lightening related alarms (not chronic)
  • Trouble alarms mistaken for actual alarms by your tenants

You will be billed for:

  • System malfunctions (no reason for alarm found)
  • Alarms caused by servicing the alarm system
  • Alarms caused by dust, steam, paint fumes, or other maintenance related air borne particles
  • Chronic water problems (Sweating pipes)
  • Chronic lightening or storm related fire alarms
  • Power failure (this should not set off your fire alarm)
  • Any other problem that tends to repeat itself
  • Trouble alarms mistaken by your employees or alarm company for actual alarm

How much will a billable false alarm cost me?

The first false alarm of a calendar year is free. After that, it will cost $250 per alarm. This is the average cost to the City for an emergency response. The cost is incurred as soon as the dispatcher pages the fire fighters, even if they are canceled before arriving at your building.

What can I do?

75% of our fire alarm calls are caused by 25% of our alarmed buildings. This tells us that just because you have a fire alarm system doesn't mean you are going to have false alarms. Things that can be done to cut down on false alarms include the following:

  • Fire alarm systems should be tested and cleaned on a regular basis. When something malfunctions it shouldn't be patched but repaired completely. Don't let the alarm service company cop out with an "I don't know"—get a new service company.
  • All employees should be trained on the care and feeding of the fire alarm system. When working produces dust, fumes, or steam where smoke detectors are present, the detectors should be wrapped in plastic. This not only prevents a false alarm but also protects the detector from damage. When a water pipe bursts or the roof leaks employees should be thinking about where the water is going and what damage it might do to the alarm system. Employees need to know how the system works and the difference between an actual alarm and a trouble alarm.
  • Replace worn out fire alarm systems. Nothing lasts forever. The new fire alarm systems are much higher tech than the systems that were put in 10 years ago. Most of them have verifications that double check for smoke before they activate the system.
  • Good equipment, trained employees, and a quality installation job virtually eliminate false alarms. If during a calendar year you have three or more false alarms for no apparent reason, you are probably suffering from a faulty fire alarm system. That system should be replaced.


  • Fire Chief