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False alarms draw real fines

| Thursday, July 13, 2006

If there's an alarm, there had better be a fire.

That's what Marshall officials are telling people after passing ordinances that fine residents and businesses when false fire alarms force police and firefighters to respond.

"It's more of an issue with the firefighters," said Jason Bragunier, a Marshall supervisor and volunteer firefighter. "When you get up at 3 a.m. for a false alarm, it wears on you."

Because Marshall shares a police force with Pine, Bradford Woods and Richland, Marshall supervisors Chairman Bob Fayfich said all four municipalities are passing the same fines for false alarms for fires that force Northern Regional police to respond.

Police fines start at $50 for first offenders but that could be waived if the owner can provide proof that the alarm is properly maintained. The second offense is also $50 and goes up $25 for each successive false alarm.

However, if the fire department responds first, fines in Marshall start at $100 for the first time and go to $300 for each incident thereafter.

If both police and fire respond in Marshall, the owner will face double fines.

Fayfich said the fire department responded to 55 false alarms last year, most from faulty electronic alarms. Police numbers were not immediately available.

Marshall already had fines in place for false alarms, but the new ordinance formalizes the police fines with neighboring municipalities.

"The reason for the difference between the fire and police fines is that police are already on duty and can respond," Marshall Manager Neil McFadden said. "With the fire department, they're called out and it involves a lot more people."

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