False Fire Alarm

False Fire Alarm

The offence of false fire alarm is outlined in section 437 of the Criminal Code.

A person commits the offence of false fire alarm when they, willfully and without reasonable cause, cause an alarm of fire in any manner including by outcry, ringing bells, or using a fire alarm or telephone.

Examples

Person A pulls the fire alarm at their school when there is no fire or other emergency to avoid writing an exam.

Person B yells “fire” to evacuate a movie theatre so that they can get the best seats.

Person C calls 911 to report a false fire at their house hoping that a local firefighter they are interested in will show up.

Cases

R. v. Brown, 2006 CanLII 28553 (ON SC)

In R. v. Brown, the accused was convicted of one count of false fire alarm when he made someone call 911 to report a fire he claimed to have witnessed when he had not witnessed any fires.

R. v. Flynn, 2010 ONCJ 294

In R. v. Flynn, the accused was charged with one count of false fire alarm when he destroyed a sprinkler system in his prison cell, causing a fire alarm to go off.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Accident

Where the person accidentally causes an alarm of fire, such as by accidentally pulling a fire alarm, they may not have completed the offence of false fire alarm.

Reasonable Cause

Where the person has reasonable cause to cause an alarm of fire, such as when there truly is a fire or they genuinely believe there to be one, they have not completed the offence of false fire alarm.

Not a Fire Alarm

Where the person causes an alarm of something other than a fire, they may not have completed the offence of false fire alarm.

For example, where person A yells that aliens, police, or murderers are on their way to alarm others, person A may not have completed the offence of false fire alarm.

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