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False alarm reduction solutions sought in Didsbury

95 per cent of alarm calls responded to by the Didsbury Fire Department in 2022 were accidental and/or non-emergent
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DIDSBURY - Town council’s performance evaluation committee will be looking into what might be done to address the number of false alarm calls being made to the Didsbury Fire Department.

Council referred the matter to the committee following a report at the Feb. 14 council meeting indicating that 95 per cent of alarm calls responded to by the department in 2022 were accidental and/or non-emergent.

The department responded to 82 alarm calls in 2022, according to statistics presented to council.

In his monthly report to council, chief administrative officer Ethan Gorner touched on the matter of false alarms.

“Alarm calls can be a response to a fire alarm or carbon monoxide alarm,” Gorner said. “If a response was a to a fire alarm set off accidentally, from cooking, heat, dust or dead batteries, for example, it is indicated in this category,” he said.

“There may also be carbon monoxide monitors that the fire department responds to which may be the result of a dead battery or an actual carbon monoxide incident. The majority of these calls are non-emergency calls or accidental activations, but there are some carbon monoxide alarms that required emergent attention.

“The approximate percentage of alarm calls that (in 2022) were accidental/non-emergent (ie: false alarms) is 95 per cent.”

During the council discussion of the matter, mayor Rhonda Hunter said council would like to have more information brought forward about the false alarms and what might be done to reduce the number.

“I know this (the issue of false alarms) is being looked at across our province and it seems to be getting pretty high,” said Hunter. “It’s not just here; it’s everywhere and I understand that.”

Gorner told council, “That is something that all communities are wrestling with and they all have similar numbers. There are potential options, with some communities where if you have a false alarm there is a charge. 

“A lot of these things are inadvertent or accidental and are not through negligence. Perhaps this is something that could be referred to a committee to explore possible options for council to consider.”

Hunter said, “I like that idea. I think it is worthy of some research and have information come back. We want to see what we can do to address the issue.”

Deputy mayor Curt Engel put forward a motion, which carried, that the performance evaluation committee “look for ways or options for reducing false alarms for our fire department, to better address the false alarms.”

Dan Singleton

About the Author: Dan Singleton

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