Friday, March 16, 2001

Fines rise for repeat false alarms

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — City officials are increasing the penalties for repeated false alarms, hoping to defray the thousands of dollars incurred by emergency deparments answering them.

        The amended ordinance, which takes effect April 13, was approved by a unanimous vote of City Council on Wednesday.

        There will continue to be no penalties for the first three alarms in a year. But thereafter, violators will pay $50 for the fourth false alarm, $75 for the fifth and $100 for the sixth and each call thereafter. The city currently charges $25 for each false alarm after the third.

        Hamilton Officer Dave Crawford said false alarms take police and fire departments away from real emergencies and put a strain on staffing.

        “We don't want to really penalize anyone, but we want to make sure they do fix their alarm systems when they have multiple false alarms during the year,” Officer Crawford said.

        Though the number of false alarms has steadily declined since 1997, authorities say they remain a burden.

        In 1997, emergency personnel responded to 1,198 bogus calls, nearly double the 632 false alarms in 2000.

        Several other Tristate communities charge alarm owners for false calls. The cities of Mason, Cincinnati, Florence, Forest Park, Hamilton and Lebanon charge owners $25 to $120 for false calls.


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