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An ordinance to keep false alarm troublemakers from continuing passed its first reading Monday, Aug. 14, at the Berkeley County Council meeting.

8.18.23 – Post & Courier

They are dubbed nuisance alarms and when there are more important things to contend with, for first responders, the name fits.

Numerous false alarms come in every month from businesses, houses and apartments and local fire chiefs want something more done to punish those responsible for what is considered a waste of resources. Now an ordinance is being considered to crack down on repeat offenders.

“My understanding is there is an apartment complex, for example, that has 10 false alarms a week,” Berkeley County council member Josh Whitley said at the Aug. 14 meeting. “So, when you deploy to that, your response to the next emergency or a real emergency may be much less.”

 Goose Creek Rural Fire Department Chief and President of the Berkeley County Fire Chief’s Association Bob Maibach was at the meeting when the ordinance was first proposed. He gave a resounding, “Yes,” to Whitley’s comment.

“It’s an issue, as the call volume increases, it’s an issue of having the resources available at the right place at the right time,” Maibach said in a later interview. “Often, we are pulled in one direction and at some point we have to send resources in another direction.”

Departments are spread pretty thin, and the issue is not with those who have alarms, it is with those who do not take care of them, Maibach said.

“We are not targeting the alarms that are activated legitimately but unintentionally like someone it cooking or steam from a shower in a residential setting or in a commercial setting where someone accidentally trips the alarm,” he said.

Council and fire chiefs want give the ordinance some teeth, but they are also willing to go light at first. As in, if a fake alarm goes off the department will work the home or business to fix the problem but if the systems aren’t updated and the owner is careless in address the false alarm the a painful fine may in the future.

The ordinance has the support of council its first reading was approved.