Fines proposed for false fire alarms

Published 12:02 am Friday, November 29, 2013

A fourth visit from the Florala Fire Department because of false fire alarms could cost Florala businesses up to $250.

City council members tabled the proposed ordinance to get more input from area businesses, but said that the practice is becoming a problem for the Florala Volunteer Fire Department.

“It’s one of the major facts that created budget issues for the fire department,” Councilwoman Ann Eason said.

Eason said that officials at the local nursing home, Florala Health and Rehab, agreed with the ordinance.

“Maybe it will make those fire alarm companies be more responsible for their systems,” said Councilwoman Hazel Lee.

The primary purpose of the ordinance is to reduce or eliminate the incidents of false fire alarms in the city, Mayor Robert Williamson said.

“While alarm systems provide a vital service to residents, businesses and the entire city, false alarms pose a safety hazard,” he said. “They divert municipal services from useful duties, creating a waste of manpower and services.”

Fire Chief Keith Martin said since the department is manned on a volunteer basis, it takes a lot to mount a response to an emergency call.

If any alarms are ruled as false alarms in excess of three times within a calendar year at a single location, business owners could find themselves in municipal court and fined no less than $100 and no more than $250.

Council members agreed to examine the practice and to tailor the ordinance to fit Florala.

And to make sure firefighters are equipped, the city and the department joined together to purchase 10 new fire suits. At a cost of approximately $10,000, the new suits should arrive by February.

In other business, the council announced a vacancy on the planning and zoning board and approved its accounts payable.