ROBERT BARRON CITIZEN
The cost to people and companies for false security and fire alarm calls in the Municipality of North Cowichan has gone up.
Council decided at a recent meeting to increase the financial penalty for three or more false alarms in one location over a 12-month period from $200 to $500.
Michael Mark, the municipality’s manager of building and compliance, said the increase more accurately reflects the actual costs of responding to false alarms.
“It’s estimated the cost of the RCMP responding to a single false security alarm call in the municipality is approximately $340, and the cost of the fire department responding to a single false fire alarm is approximately $950,” Mark said.
“Such unnecessary emergency responses pose a threat to the safety of firefighters, police officers and members of the public by creating unnecessary hazards, and may result in a delayed response to a true emergency.”
Mark said the municipality’s false alarm bylaw requires the owners and users of fire and security alarm systems to limit excessive numbers of false alarms.
To do this, they are required to ensure the systems are installed and maintained correctly, and that a monitoring company attempts to verify if an alarm is false before contacting emergency services.
The compliance process for false alarms typically involves the municipality sending a warning letter to the owner of a building after a second alarm is received in any 12-month period, and imposing a fine after the third or more false alarm.
Mark said the North Cowichan fire department responded to 176 automatic alarm calls in 2015, of which the “vast majority” were false alarms, and resulted in just one warning letter being sent out.
He said the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment attended to 229 false alarms in 2015, resulting in 16 warning letters and four fines.