According to assistant fire chief Brian Fennessey, the city's firefighters spend approximately 2000 hours each year investigating false-alarm calls. The department estimates that false-alarm calls costs the city more than $500,000 annually.
"Of the estimated 111,000 emergency calls for service that fire and rescue service receives each year, we respond to an average of 6281 false alarms," said Fennessey during a Budget and Finance Committee meeting.
"This reduces our ability to respond to actual emergencies."
Looking to recoup those yearly losses, the department proposes tacking a fee onto the cost of fire-alarm permits. For residential properties, the proposed annual fee is $18; for commercial properties, $25. If property owners do not obtain a permit, fines will be handed down. For the first false alarm, the property owner will be charged a $195 fine. The fines would escalate for each subsequent offense.
"We want to make sue that the fees sting enough so folks will put in new alarms," said committee member Marti Emerald.
With little debate, committee members moved the the proposed ordinance to the full city council for discussion.