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Fines increased for false alarms in Donegal Township

| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Property owners in Donegal Township can expect an increase in fines if local firefighters respond to false alarms.

The township's board of supervisors recently approved a new ordinance, one that replaces an prior ordinance, to more effectively classify the fees to be doled out for false alarms responded to by the Chestnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Company.

The false alarms are mainly due to security systems, which either malfunction or need to be updated, board members said.

“Our old ordinance was for 10 (false alarm responses) before you got charged,” Supervisor Tom Stull said. “Now it's after four. After four they will be charged in increasing steps.”

Details on how much would be charged for each cited infraction were not disclosed.

Stull said the need for the new ordinance arose as a result of repeated calls from the same locations that were all false alarms due to malfunctioning alarm systems.

“There was one house that (the department) went to four times in one month,” Stull said.

There have even been locations that the department was dispatched to twice in the same day, he added.

“They mainly occur when no one is at home or at the business. Sometimes when someone is there they call in quick enough, but there are a lot of calls that are false.”

Stull said that, for every house alarm call, at least three companies respond.

“You probably have close to $1 million worth of equipment showing up at each call,” Stull said.

In other business, the board passed a motion for the township to take part in the annual Household Hazardous Waste Drop-Off on Oct. 5 at Westmoreland County Community College near Youngwood.

For a $40 fee, township residents can take part in the event which gives people the chance to drop off paint cans and other items deemed inappropriate for regular trash collection.

“We didn't take part in it last year because it was in New Kensington, and we didn't feel that any of our residents would drive that far,” Stull said.

Supervisors have also applied for a state Community Development Block Grant for work planned on Ridge Road. The board is still waiting for the results of an endangered species study before they can proceed with draining and paving of the passage, members said.

Supervisors are also preparing for the oiling and chipping of roads by mid-summer.

Those plans include Lower Tabernacle, School House and Krieger roads, Stull said.

The supervisors also passed a motion to hire Colton Lenhart as a part-time labor operator at the rate of $12 per hour with no benefits.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.