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Hempfield seeks end to false fire alarms

| Saturday, June 16, 2012, 2:54 p.m.

Hempfield hopes enforcement of its fire alarm ordinance will put an end to a rash of false alarms plaguing local firefighters.

Township Manager Rob Ritson told supervisors at a planning session Wednesday night that the situation has grown "habitual" with some businesses. However, he said the biggest violator is the Hempfield Area School District.

Under the ordinance, violations occur on the fourth false alarm during any 12-month period. Violators face a maximum $300 fine for each new offense.

Ritson indicated its time for a crackdown.

"We chose not to aggressively enforce (the ordinance)," Ritson said. "But it's becoming more and more habitual."

The problem, he said, stems from "faulty detectors."

While not identifying violators, he said a number of restaurants on Route 30 have repeated false alarms. Several have had the problem fixed, but only after "we really threatened them."

Ritson did not pinpoint the number of false alarms coming from the school district.

He said there are relatively few residential false alarms.

Ritson said the hope is a crackdown will help save firefighters time and fuel. One estimate is that 80 percent of alarms that volunteer emergency personnel respond to turn out to be false.

After the meeting, Ritson said enforcement would probably get under way sometime in the next two weeks.

In other activity, supervisors learned residents will be receiving brochures detailing summer recreation programs in the next week or so.

Ritson also discussed acquiring a Web site for the township. He said he has an "interactive" site in mind. The price is high, he said, but the benefits for residents and township officials would be substantial.

Ritson indicated he had been looking for grants to pay for some of the cost of creating and maintaining a site.

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