Reprinted with Permission

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Ann Arbor has taken steps to help the police and fire departments reduce false alarm responses.

The Ann Arbor City Council on Monday approved a fee that will charge property owners $250 each time the fire department has to come to their address for a false alarm, including the first time.

Currently, there is no fee for responding to the first false fire alarm, but the fire Department charges $120 for the second call and $360 for third call.

Assistant Fire Chief Ed Dziubinski told the council Monday that the department responds to hundreds of false alarm calls a year, usually due to a system malfunction, a short circuit in the alarm, poor maintenance and outdated battery backups.

He said the department must recoup some of the cost when responding to a false alarm because the engine and the entire crew sits idle outside of home and wait until the case is cleared up.

Also, the council approved a new ordinance clarifying the relationship between alarm companies, alarm users and police and fire departments.

The change established a $37 annual fee that property owners must pay to the police and fire departments to register alarm systems.

False Fire Alarm Calls to Cost Residents

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The article isn't that clear as to what sort of alarms the council will now charge for. Is it monitored alarms only, or can it be applied to calls for domestic smoke alarms where calls turn out to be 'no fire'? If it's just monitored calls, then we have that covered with a fee for each vehicle that responds, per 15 minutes out of station - when we can easily be responding 6 vehicles, it can work out to over $1000. A good hint to businesses that perhaps they should ensure that maintenance is done properly and alsoensure that staff know not to burn toast.

If the charge will also be sent to private home owners, I see that as counter productive from the point of view of safety. We get people worried that they may get a bill when we turn up and find nothing, it's nice to be able to tell them 'don't worry, no charge. When in doubt, call us out.'
I dont blame them. At my second station if we get a false alarm at the locale collage we charge. If it is a alarm problem we dont charge. If its a pulled false alarm we charge $500. We used to get 5 to 6 pulled false alarms a week..Now we may get 1 every few weeks.

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