2017-02-02 / Front Page

Fire officials: Cool it on the false alarms

BY LANIA ROCHA
810-452-2652 • lrocha@mihomepaper.com

SWARTZ CREEK and CLAYTON TOWNSHIP – Some members of the Fire Board took aim at false alarms last week, going so far as to suggest the fire department not respond to some calls for service.

According to Fire Chief Brent Cole, many of the false alarms are reported by alarm companies that received alerts but could not verify the emergencies with the homeowners.

“Sometimes they don’t have the right phone numbers for the homeowners,” Cole said. “Often, the homeowners don’t know how to cancel the calls.”

Board member Ken Engel, who represents Clayton Township, suggested that firefighters “refuse” to go if the alarm company does not have proper contact information for the residents.

“The problem (with refusing to respond) is what if it’s a real thing,” said Assistant Chief Dave Plumb.

Cole said he will step up efforts to educate the public on the importance of providing alarm companies with current information.

He did not rule out the possibility of instituting fines for repeated false calls to the same addresses.

Engel noted that every emergency response puts firefighters in danger and is therefore a potential liability.

He said he will work with Clayton Township officials to draw up a plan for handling false alarms.

Firefighters responded to 11 calls in December. Of those, one involved a detector set off by drywall dust, another turned out to be burned food, a third was a barbecue grill and two were unintentional alarms caused by a malfunction or maintenance, according to fire department records.

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