University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Residential Fire Alarm Systems

Preventing Nuisance Alarms

The fire alarm systems used in all of our residence halls are sensitive and can be more easily activated than the ones found in most homes.  Frequent accidental activations (also known as "nuisance alarms") are preventable with your help. 

The following is a list of common fire alarm triggers:


When showering be sure to close the bathroom door to prevent steam from escaping.

Aerosol products:

Hair spray, body sprays, cologne, and air fresheners can trigger the alarms.   When applying or using these items be sure to do so away from the smoke detectors.


Burned food is one of the most common alarm trigger.  When cooking food, whether on the stove, in the oven, or in the microwave,  please keep a close eye on items and never leave them unattended.  If they begin to burn remove them immediately.   If something bakes over in your oven please be sure to remove any residue once the oven has cooled.  Similarly, if something boils over on your burner be sure to clean the burner pan once it has cooled.

Prohibited items:

Remember that candles, incense, space heaters, indoor grills and griddles, and smoking are prohibited inside all residence facilities.  These items/activities are not only dangerous but can easily activate a smoke detector. 

Although the frequent accidental activation of fire alarms is a nuisance it is important to remain vigilant each time an alarm is triggered and follow the appropriate safety procedures including building evacuation.

Pitt-Johnstown's central alarm monitoring system is able to identify specific rooms and areas where alarms are triggered.  Residents responsible for multiple nuisance activations (3 or more) from the above triggers are subject to a $75 fine and/or judicial charges.  Nuisance activations are not only disruptive to fellow residents but also put emergency responders at risk each time they are summoned to campus.