False alarms the result of “mechanical or human error” are the reason behind Red Deer County’s proposed new False Alarm Bylaw, which was given first reading by councillors at their Aug. 5 regular meeting.
The bylaw, if passed, would see more accountability placed on county home and business owners for false emergency calls reported by alarm monitoring companies.
Most of those calls currently received are placed inadvertently, but they all require the attention of police or fire personnel. This means valuable resources often become tied up at times when they could be required elsewhere.
“When police or fire are dispatched to an alarm call, it is given priority status, and will usually receive an emergency response,” states an administration report presented to council. “Each time emergency services make an emergency response, it puts people, including responders, at risk. When responding to false alarms, it detracts the ability of those services to respond to other incidents, needlessly tying up resources.”
The solution proposed by the bylaw would see property owners granted leniency for their first false alarm. The second incident, however, would see them hit with a $200 fee, which would rise to $400 for each time it occurred after that, within the same calendar year.
The county notes that the bylaw has been effectively applied in other parts of the province, and says that it’s supported by RCMP detachments.
A county press release made clear the purpose of the proposed bylaw, which it said is “not to generate revenue, but to make property owners accountable for their alarm systems”.
It also noted that police and fire personnel receive “hundreds” of alarm calls Ñ the majority of which turn out to be false. This, it added, prevents these personnel from tending to other important duties.
Information on the county’s bylaws can be found on the county’s website at www.rdcounty.ca.