Washington Township considers fines for false fire alarms

March 19, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH |

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — New regulations being considered in Washington Township, Pa., would create fines for properties that have frequent false alarms for fire service.

On Monday, the Washington Township Supervisors and Waynesboro Fire Chief Dave Martin discussed firefighters responding to calls for falsely tripped or malfunctioning alarm systems.

“Some people do not move too fast to fix it,” Martin said.

The supervisors questioned what steps could be taken to prevent such false calls.

Neighboring Antrim Township, Pa., has an ordinance stating a property can have three false alarms a year, then fines are assessed starting with the fourth false alarm, Solicitor John Lisko said.

The fines start at $100, he said.

“A lot of municipalities do have (laws like) that,” Martin said.

False calls probably cost the department $150 to $200 each, plus they put fire crews and the public at risk when firetrucks are traveling roads using their lights and sirens, he said.

Supervisor William Conrad said he would like to talk further about an alarm ordinance at a workshop meeting. The supervisors asked for a copy of Antrim Township’s ordinance.

“I’d like to see that (firefighters) get reimbursed for their costs,” Conrad said.

In February, the Waynesboro Fire Department responded to 32 calls with an average of nine personnel per call, Martin said. The department responded to a total of 89 calls in the first two months of the year, he said.

Typically, about 20 percent of calls from the dispatch center result in cancellation and the firefighters being placed back in service before they arrive at the destination, Martin said.

Washington Township Police Chief Barry Keller said a state law allows police to pressure properties that have false alarms for police service. He sends them letters after the third call in one year.

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