12.16.22 – Cullman Times
The City of Cullman has adopted a new ordinance aimed at conserving municipal emergency response resources in the face of increasing 911 calls — calls that often bring police and fire personnel to the scene of both false alarms and non-medical incidents.
At its most recent regular meeting, the Cullman City Council approved a new ordinance instituting guidelines, along with a new fee structure, aimed at prioritizing lifesaving response capability above non-medical calls, which typically come to fire and police personnel in the form of requests for lift assistance to non-injured individuals.
Under the new ordinance, local assisted-living, medical care and nursing facilities all will be assessed a minimum $500 per-hour fee for each time a city fire and rescue unit is called to deliver “lift assistance to any patient/resident for non-emergency and non-medical related” responses, according to the new local statute.
The ordinance also institutes a similar, but lower, $50 per-hour fee for such response calls made from private residents — though that fee does not apply until after a private resident has made more than three non-emergency assistance requests within a single calendar year.
City clerk Wes Moore said Friday that the city had no previous ordinance in place to address lower-priority, non-medical calls, which officials say place a strain on Cullman’s emergency response manpower.
“Most cities our size do have something like this, and we really didn’t have anything in the code relating to this type of thing,” said Moore. “The fire chief and police chief both had input on this ordinance and both supported it. The goal is to save lives and not waste resources, especially when a fire and rescue unit may be out working a non-medical call when a life-threatening, medical emergency call does come through.”
The ordinance also institutes fees for on-scene dispatches to automated security alarms that turn out to be false.
“Each False Alarm in excess of one false alarm in a calendar month” will be assessed a $50 fee per occurrence, barring false alarms caused by “Acts of God” in the city’s determination, the ordinance states. The goal of the measure is to encourage alarm system owners to maintain their systems and thereby reduce the frequency of false alarm, with the ordinance noting that “the vast majority of alarms to which Cullman Fire Rescue and the Cullman Police Department respond to are False Alarms,” and that “first responders responding to False Alarms are not available to carry out emergency duties” while occupied at the scene.
Beyond the initial, first-occurrence fees, the ordinance prescribes additional fee assessments based on the number of times responders are dispatched to perform non-medical services at the same scene within a specified period of time. View the new measure in its entirety online at http://cullmanal.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/o7-12122022.pdf.