Mississippi Fire Department to Charge for too Many False Fire Alarms

June 2, 2014

The Olive Branch Fire Department responded to 262 false alarms at businesses during the 12-month period that ended March 30.

Lt. Steve Walker with the Mississippi city’s fire prevention bureau said during an earlier 12-month period, the figure was 333.

The city is stepping in to penalize businesses for excessive false fire alarms.

Fire Chief Johnny Eason said in one case, firefighters had 25 alarm calls due to a faulty duct sensor.

“We have a lot of commercial false alarms,” said Eason, who said requests to fix the alarms went unheeded.”`We’ve never had any kind of remedy for that.”

Now, the city is stepping in to penalize businesses for excessive false fire alarms.

Businesses will be allowed three false alarms a year, said Greg Hedrick, a city fire inspector. For the fourth false alarm and for every false alarm thereafter during that period, a $100 penalty will be imposed. Hedrick thinks businesses, faced with a fine, will fix the alarm problem before they face a penalty.

Hedrick said businesses likely will be warned first, receiving phone calls from the Fire Department, just as they do now when there are repeated false alarms.

“We’re going to try our best to work with them,” Eason said. “Our intent isn’t to make money.”

The Commercial Appeal reports Southaven has had an ordinance in place for years that fines businesses after the third false fire alarm call.

“It’s worked well,” said Southaven Fire Chief Ron White.

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