June 2013 - Posts
The Lowell, MA, City Council voted unanimously last summer to request that City Manager Bernie Lynch provide a report on how property owners who were forced to buy new fire-alarm boxes from only one company could recoup some of their costs.
The request came after The Sun revealed that the state Inspector General had determined the city's mandate requiring owners of residential buildings with 13 or more units to buy wireless boxes from one company "completely obliterated price competition" and "was not advantageous for the businesses and the citizens of Lowell."
Councilors never received a response to Councilor Rodney Elliott's motion.
Armed with a recent Housing Court decision stating the city cannot force property owners to purchase only one type of fire-alarm system, Elliott refiled a motion for last Tuesday's meeting asking Lynch to report on ways the city could assist businesses.
But this time, the council defeated Elliott's motion, 5-4.
Those voting in opposition to a report on rebate options were Mayor Patrick Murphy and Councilors Marty Lorrey, Bill Martin, Joseph Mendonca and Vesna Nuon.
Voting in favor were Elliott and Councilors Ed Kennedy, John Leahy and Rita Mercier.
The Memphis, TN, City Council is considering tougher false alarm laws than ones currently in place.
"Twenty percent of the alarm users are causing 80 percent of the problems," said Memphis City Councilman Kemp Conrad.
Here are the proposed changes:
If you have a false alarm, you could pay the $90 dollars per hour it costs for police to respond. Instead of being penalized on the sixth false alarm, you would get five allowable false alarms per year before a fine, suspension or removal of the alarm.
Also, after a seventh false alarm, you could be put on a "Do Not Respond" list. And, if you are operating an alarm without a permit, you could be fined or added to that "Do Not Respond" list.
The council will also review alarm office operations.
Altoona, PA, is tackling two issues at once raising money and cutting down on false alarms.
On June 12 during the city council meeting, city officials tried to cut those numbers down by taking the first steps to charging people for making too many false alarms and getting insurance companies to pay part of the bill when they have to roll out.
You would get a written warning for the first two false alarms in a year. The third time will cost you sixty dollars and go up from there.
Plymouth, MI, business and homeowners will soon be paying higher fines for repeated false fire alarms.
The Plymouth City Commission on Monday approved the first reading of an ordinance amendment that would raise the cost of a third false alarm to $300, the first two in the course of a year being “free.” The fine would be $500 each starting with the fourth false alarm.
A change in how the Green Bay, WI, Metro Fire Department records false alarms has lead to fewer people being cited for such offenses in the past few years.
Fire Chief Mike Nieft said that when he began a quality control program in 2012 to take a closer look at false alarm reports, he found cases in which an alarm acted properly, such as detecting smoke or an alarm sounding because it needed batteries.
He does not consider such incidents false alarms, because he said the device is functioning as it should. Nieft then changed how officers identify false alarms to include only incidents of alarms sounding when there is no sign of danger, such as when a device is set off maliciously or when an owner refuses to fix a defective system.
Rutherford County, TN, Sheriff's would like the county to implement a permit fee for home alarm systems to defray manpower costs and money spent on fuel.
Nearby, Murfreesboro police said they respond to just as many false alarms. However, the city charges a $30 permit fee that's good for three years.
That's netted more than $60,000 to help offset the cost of sending two officers to every alarm call.
Hannibal, MO, Fire Chief Bill Madore hopes an upcoming ordinance will reduce the number of nuisance phone calls the fire department receives.
Aldermen at Tuesday's city council meeting heard a first reading of an resolution to penalize those who repeatedly make nuisance calls to the fire department. Madore estimated the fire department responds to 1,800 calls each year and that 8 percent of those calls are false alarms.
Madore hopes the fines will reduce the number of false alarms, easing the wear on department vehicles and saving fuel.
A caller would be allowed two nuisance calls within a calendar year without a fine. The department would fine an offender $50 for a third call, $100 for a fourth call, $150 for a fifth call and $200 for a sixth call. Fees for the seventh, eighth and ninth nuisance calls within a calendar year would be $250 each.
Fire officials would fine $300 each for any additional false alarms within a calendar year.
"This is to generate revenue, but I hope we never generate a dime from it," Madore said.
New Haven, CT, will begin to use the services of a private company in an effort to cut down on the number of false commercial and residential burglar alarms.
Billing and collection for false alarms will be outsourced to the Public Safety Corp. through their Cry Wolf product. The city’s alarm ordinance and fines associated with false alarms won’t change; however, collection efforts will be ramped up.
“When we were trying to do it (collect fines) ourselves, it was pretty much non-existent,” Chief Administrative Officer Robert Smuts said.
There is no charge for the first false alarm, the second one comes with a $75 fine, the third is $150 and the fourth and subsequent ones are $250. The fine scale resets every fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30.