Township hikes fine for false fire alarms

Escalating fines aim to stem 'rash' of alarms coming from a few businesses and institutions

The price for false fire alarms is going up in Langley Township.

Council approved new regulations that include escalating fines for repeat offenders at the Monday, Oct. 6 evening meeting

The vote was unanimous.

Currently, there is no fine for the first false fire alarm within in a six month period, defined as “the activation of an alarm system that results in a response from the fire department where a situation requiring such a response does not exist …”

Every false alarm after that carries a penalty of $50.

Under the new rules, there will be no fine for the first two false fire alarms within a calendar year, $150 for third and fourth false alarms, and $300 for every offence after that.

The regulation will apply to “owners/representatives/occupants or users of any property containing a sprinkler system or a fire alarm system.”

The report from the fire department described the number of false fire alarms in the Township as “excessive” but did not give specifics.

Under questioning from council at a previous meeting, fire chief Stephen Gamble said the number of repeat fire alarms considered excessive varies, with a “few businesses and institutions” ringing up three or four false alarms in a single-week “rash” of alarms while others have recorded 15 or 20 in a month without making much of an effort to fix the problem.

“They’ve just let these things keep coming,” Gamble said, adding he was told by another fire chief that some people view relatively cheap fines  as a “cost of doing business” that doesn’t motivate them to correct the problem.

One of the problem institutions, Gamble confirmed, was Trinity Western University.

Langley City already has an escalating fine structure for false fire alarms, with no fine for a first incident, $50 for a second, $75 for a third and $100 for every incident after that within a 12-month period.