False alarms tying up local fire departments

By Nigel Maxwell
October 19, 2018 - 2:00pm

According to the City of Melfort's Fire Chief, one-third of their calls this year have been false alarms and tax payers are on the hook to cover costs.

Jason Everitt told northeastNOW they've had 35 false alarms calls this year in the city and surrounding rural area, including three on Wednesday. He said he does not entirely mind these types of calls.

"We just assume respond to 99 false alarms and have them all being false alarms then have an actual event grow and get out of hand," he said.

Everitt said false alarms typically fall into three different categories: A human perceived emergency, a minor cooking incident that produces a small amount of smoke, or a malicious activation which involves someone pulling a smoke alarm. The fire department had one of each incident on Wednesday. Everitt said the fees start as soon as the calls are received.

"As soon as the members are called out for that, and they respond to the hall, even if upon the investigation they don’t leave the hall, there's still a call out fee," he said.

Everitt said technology has also played a factor in the number of false alarms calls. Most home security systems now include options for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. When the smoke detector detects smoke, the alarm company is alerted.

"You know what would have happened years ago is someone might have burnt their toast and that would have been the end of it but now these systems are so sensitive that they pick up and they transmit the alarm," he said.

Once the alarm company receives the notification, a call is them made to the owner to check and make sure everything is OK but if no one answers then emergency services are notified. Everitt said he has been to many calls where the homeowner was standing outside when fire crews arrived and admitted they were too shaken up to hear the phone ring.

"If the phone is ringing at that time, answer it please, because if they can confirm it's a false alarm, then that can prevent the fire department from being dispatched," Everitt said.

This problem is not isolated to the Melfort Fire Department. Last Sunday, Buckland Fire and Rescue was dispatched to a reported two vehicle accident on Highway 355 W. but upon arrival no accident scene was found.





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On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell


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