City increasing fines for false alarms

City increasing fines for false alarms

PAWTUCKET – A new local law designed to cut down on the number of unnecessary police and fire responses to false alarms took a step forward last week.

The City Council’s ordinance subcommittee approved an ordinance change instituting increased financial penalties for false alarms caused by mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation or negligence.

False alarms caused by acts of God, including weather events, are exempted. City properties are also not included in the new provisions.

The new schedule of penalties still calls for no fines for the first two offenses, but offenses 3-5 would trigger a $150 fine per incident, up from $50 currently, incidents 6-10 would bring fines of $200 per incident, up from $100 currently, and more than 10 incidents would carry penalties of $300 per incident, up from $200 currently.

All fire alarm systems will be maintained in good operational condition at all times.

Subcommittee Chairman Terry Mercer said fire and police chiefs have complained that responses to false alarms are simply costing the city too much money, and increasing the penalties will help cut down on the number of times public safety members are taken out of circulation in having to response to unfounded calls.

Mercer noted that there have been occasions at his work office in Warwick where someone has forgotten a code or similar mistake and set off the alarm, causing a fine to be issued.

The changes to the ordinance also put forms online for the first time.

City Solicitor Frank Milos said the city’s chiefs asked for changes, so officials did some research on similar changes in Providence and then looked at what other municipalities are doing on fines. Milos said officials tried to be fair and not increase fines too high. He said the city is “somewhere in the middle” in comparison to other communities.

The full City Council will now vote on the changes.