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City OKs false alarm ordinance
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Springfield is hoping to cut down on the number of false alarms its emergency services have to answer.

City council members approved a new false alarm ordinance that is designed to discourage false alarms from residences and businesses. Under the new law, there will be no fee for the first three false alarms from a home or a business in a calendar year.

But after the fourth false alarm, the city will be looking to be compensated for its emergency and public safety resources being used.

“We’re always going to have them,” Springfield Fire Chief  Travis Zittrouer said of false alarms. “Some occupancies have them more frequently.”

Those places often have their alarms go off, without a legitimate emergency, because of a lack of maintenance on the warning systems. The new ordinance addresses false alarms set for malicious reasons or for a lack of maintenance, Zittrouer said. There will be no repercussions for something that is an actual alarm.

“It’s designed to get people in gear to fix their alarms or keep proper maintenance up,” the chief said.

Under the ordinance, the response fee per call on a false alarm will be $150 from the fourth to the sixth instance of a false alarm. From the seventh through ninth occurrence, the fee is $300 per call, and it’s $400 for each call from the 10th through 15th time. All false alarm calls from a home or business in excess of 15 times in a calendar year will each result in a $500 fee.

The Springfield Fire Department averages about two to three false alarms a month, according to Zittrouer. One location has had more than 12 false alarms this year, all a result of faulty equipment.

“It’s a huge use of resources to send out trucks,” Zittrouer said. “We can’t leave until we determine it is a false alarm.”

False alarms that are the result of a person working on the alarm system, with prior notification to the city, will not be judged as false alarms, nor will those alarms set off by electrical interruptions or floods or storms. Alarms triggered by a “Life Alert” device to notify emergency personnel of someone with special needs also will not be deemed to be false alarms.

False alarm response fees
Springfield City Council approved the following  response fee per false alarm call. There is no fee for the first three false alarms at a home or a business.
Number of alarms    Fee per call
4-6                            $150
7-9                            $300
10-15                        $400
15-plus                      $500