SALISBURY, Md.- Too many false alarms are becoming a problem for the Salisbury Fire Department.
The problem exists not just inside the city but outside of city limits as well.
Now the city is looking at ways to minimize that in order to ease the burden on its resources. That means making changes to the current law and to the city's fire service agreement that provides fire response to areas outside of the city's limits.
"The cost right now, the fees for that and the fines for that are being adjusted, what we are doing is that we are making fees more in line with the actual cost for that service, providing that service from either the fire department or from the police department or both," said city Councilwoman Laura Mitchell.
The current ordinance says that if a fire alarm goes off more than two times in a year at a home or business outside of the city limits those owners would face an additional fee of up to $2,500.
Acting Salisbury Fire Chief Richard Hoppes said that whether crews are responding to excessive number of false alarms within the city or outside of city limits, the burden is about the same.
"Obviously that creates a delay in service," Hoppes said, "and a delay in our capabilities is to provide speedy service to our citizens that are in a true emergency. They (the false alarms calls) go anti against our true mission which is providing a true quick emergency service to the citizens in their time of need."
Some people on Thursday told WBOC that the extra charge is justified, but others said it is not fair.
Ronnie Jackson, who lives outside of Salisbury, said he disagrees with the idea of additional fines.
"Yeah I am paying for the service so why should I pay for the false alarms? " Jackson said. "Why should I be charged for it? I just don't see the point in that."
But city resident Peg Russ said either people pay up or fix the problem.
"Oh I think it's fair," Russ said. "Because I think it'll stop people that don't really need an ambulance."
The City Council hopes to change the law by next month.
Mitchell said that the new proposal includes a flat fee based on actual cost of service. Fines would then be reduced to up to $1,000.
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