false alarm

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false alarm

A benign situation initially mistaken for an emergency. Mary thought she was going into labor, but it turned out to be a false alarm. When the smoke detectors started beeping, we thought the building was on fire, but it was just a false alarm caused by faulty wiring.
See also: alarm, false

false alarm

A warning signal that is groundless, made either by mistake or as a deliberate deception. For example, The rumor that we were all going to get fired was just a false alarm, or Setting off a false alarm is a criminal offense. This expression, first recorded in 1579, today is often used for a report of a nonexistent fire.
See also: alarm, false

a false aˈlarm

a warning of something, especially something unpleasant or dangerous, which does not in fact happen: They thought the packet contained a bomb but it was a false alarm.
See also: alarm, false
References in periodicals archive ?
It took only 15 minutes for that false alarm to be corrected - and in the meantime, public order prevailed.
A third of all false alarms across England were attended by fire crews, 6,533 out of 19,777, according to figures from the Estates Return Information Collection published by NHS Digital.
With that in mind, we've configured the system to avoid being set off accidentally by the common causes of false alarms in warehouses, including emissions from the machinery.
This resulted in fire engines being mobilised on blue lights 18,000 times - almost ten a day - to what turned out to be a false alarm.
Thoughtful, sometimes amusing lyrics, great production and fantastic vocals make Voodoo Dolls and False Alarms worth seeking out.
Don't just ignore false alarms - you can't continually reset the system or bypass the alarm, hoping it will go away.
Despite the huge number of fire detection options currently available, devising a system for the pharmaceutical sector that will give the necessary speed of response without creating maintenance problems or generating an unacceptable level of false alarms is far from easy.
Bosses are also reducing the number of crew that attend callsouts they believe may be false alarms.
LIVES could be put at risk every day as firefighters waste hours responding to false alarms in public buildings and businesses.
Then, as now, authorities complained that too many false alarms were draining resources away from real emergencies.
They now have just over two months to install the expensive new audio verification technology police believe is needed to reduce the number of false alarms caused by staff pushing panic buttons for the 'wrong' reason such as antisocial behaviour outside stores.
In 2005 there were 11 false alarms each month on average, and that fell in 2006 to 7.
Created by the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) and False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), the award is designed to raise industry awareness regarding false alarms.
WARWICKSHIRE Fire and Rescue Service is using a new software system to reduce the time it spends responding to false alarms.
Airline fire detectors have historically produced as high as a 200 to 1 rate of false alarms.