A law in the works in the Village of Waterville will fine places that have excessive false alarm fire calls.
Mayor Gene Ostrander and Board members outlined the new law at last week’s Village Board meeting. A public hearing is set for the April 25 meeting, when Board members also plan on adopting the law.
Ostrander introduced a draft of the law modeled on one adopted in 2001 in the Village of Clinton. He did so, Ostrander said, because of the number of times the Waterville Fire Department is called to Waterville Junior-Senior High School on false alarms.
In 2022, through last week, the Department has responded to 12 calls to the Junior-Senior High. Six of those have come since a Feb. 7 meeting between village and district officials to address the matter; another nine false alarms came between September and December.
“We should have pushed this new law sooner,’’ Ostrander said, “because it’s still an issue. It also irks me that there’s no communication from the school since our meeting to talk about this.’’
In February Waterville Fire Chief Will Beach said his department is seeing fewer members respond to calls at the Junior-Senior High. The latest call the afternoon of April 5 saw one responder come in his personal vehicle.
At the WCS Board of Education meeting later than night, it was explained that call was set off by dust from construction work in a small room in the Auditorium.
While that call came in the daylight, most of the alarms have been between midnight and 4 a.m.
The new law states that false alarms drain resources and make emergency personnel unavailable for actual emergencies. Village and Fire officials said each false alarm puts about $500,000 of equipment into play plus volunteer manpower.
A false alarm is defined as one caused by improper installation of the system, a mechanical failure or malfunction of the system. Alarms triggered by weather or a third party will not be counted.
All buildings with an alarm system will be required to obtain a permit from the Village and provide certain information. Included will be who is to be contacted during an alarm and who will respond on site when an alarm goes off….