RANCHO SANTA FE — The RSF Fire Protection District is getting the word out that beginning Aug. 10 it will implement its newest ordinance pertaining to nuisance fire alarm fees.
According to Fire Marshal Renee Hill, after two false alarms within a 365-day period, the third and subsequent alarms will be charged $423 each.
“A penalty fee of $100 may also be added per the ordinance,” she said. “Property owners will be sent notices upon the first false alarm so they can address the problem and avoid any charges.”
According to the District’s numbers, in 2013 it had 582 false alarm calls for businesses where engines were dispatched. Hill went on to say that 36 of those properties had two or more false alarms within 365 days.
A pattern has been identified.
“When we respond to a false alarm it does have adverse impacts on the community. There is a system in place to provide coverage when an engine is dispatched to a call, however, that is not preferable,” Hill said. She continued, “We strive to provide the community with the best resources and customer service and feel this ordinance is necessary to meet that goal.”
Deputy Chief Mike Gibbs said response times from the station, to the nuisance alarm call, and back to the station once again can be variable. However, the estimation for an engine to be tied up for false alarms may vary from 30 to 45 minutes in length.
“It’s an impact because that resource is not available for any other incident because they are committed at that point,” he said.
If another incident were to occur in that engine’s area, they cannot respond to it. The next step is for dispatch to find another station nearest to that area to handle that incident.
Hill pointed out that response times are based on the station location and the proximity to where the emergency is — if the response is delayed, the results could be tragic.
Gibbs said it’s these types of situations which adversely impact the community.
“We treat fire alarms as a true emergency, but when we see patterns for alarm systems either malfunctioning or not signaling a true emergency for the ratings that we identified in the Ordinance, then we need to educate the public that those alarms are either serviced correctly and people are using them for the intended purpose,” he said. “We have to keep our resources available for emergencies.”
Hill said it’s important for businesses and residences to call an alarm company to inspect their system and maintain it according to the standards set forth in NFPA 72.
The RSF Fire Protection District can provide additional resources if companies and residents are unfamiliar with those standards. They are there to help.
To learn more about the new ordinance the District encourages people to visit and read up on it at rsf-fire.org