Supervisors OK Drafting Regulations to Penalize False Fire Alarms

RIVERSIDE – Riverside County supervisors today signed off on plans to establish penalties for individuals or businesses responsible for triggering false fire alarms that needlessly divert emergency resources.

Without comment, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 — with Chairman John Tavaglione absent — to authorize the Office of Emergency Services to work with the Office of County Counsel on finalizing an ordinance.

Supervisor Jeff Stone last year raised the issue of false alarms and what might be done to prevent them while considering ways to save the fire department money as it struggled to pare down a $5 million budget deficit.

According to the fire department, firefighters responded to 2,110 false alarm calls — or an average of six per day — countywide in 2011.

”These calls range from someone pulling the fire alarm erroneously at a school to not turning off a house alarm in time,” according to an OES document. ”Responding to these calls prolongs the time that it can take for the (fire) department to respond to a bona fide emergency and can ultimately jeopardize the health, welfare and safety of Riverside County residents.”

The OES is expected to return with a proposed ordinance for the board to consider early next year.

In 2008, the city of Riverside enacted a law mandating that any party responsible for more than two false alarms to which the fire or police departments respond pay a $100 fine. Penalties go up in $50 increments for each additional false alarm call.

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