False alarms not a major problem here
The Jamestown Sun False alarms to police and fire departments cost the city money, but Jamestown officials said they don't pose a major problem. Taxpayer money as well as police and firefighters' time and resources are used in dealing with false ...
The Jamestown Sun
False alarms to police and fire departments cost the city money, but Jamestown officials said they don't pose a major problem.
Taxpayer money as well as police and firefighters' time and resources are used in dealing with false alarms, said Cpl. Thomas Nagel of the Jamestown Police Department.
The police responded to 196 alarms in 2006 and none were considered crimes in progress, said Police Chief Dave Donegan of the Jamestown Police Department. The Jamestown Fire Department responded to 166 incidents in 2006, 78 of which were false alarms, said Fire Chief Bert Gray.
False alarms are caused by human error, dust, motion, storms and mechanical or electrical problems with security systems.
But while the police and fire departments may have to divide their resources at times, Nagel said not to throw out those security systems just yet -- the system can watch over a building or residence when the police can't and occasionally, because of the security system, police catch a burglary in progress.
"(Security systems are) always a good idea because it's just another eye on your place," Nagel said.
False alarms to the police department can be caused by a number of reasons, but the majority of times they are caused by motion detectors and security alarms at businesses, Nagel said.
Property and business owners can do some things to prevent false alarms, he said. For instance, employees should access the key pad quick enough to type in the security code, Nagel said. They should not be in a rush when leaving, he added, so they can remember to set the alarm properly.
Also, check the system regularly to make sure it and its parts are up to date, he said. Another reason for false alarms may be lightning, vermin or wind. Nagel said each false alarm costs the city about $100.
Jamestown police and fire departments don't charge for false alarms, but some cities do.
The Bismarck Police Department, for example, charges $15 for each of the first three alarms that are called for any reason besides burglary or a crime in a calendar year, said Sgt. Mark Buschena, crime prevention supervisor for the Bismarck Police Department.
The city of Bismarck is home to approximately 58,000 residents.
After three false alarms, the fee increases. After 12 false alarms in a year, the department charges the property or business owner $75. The department, however, does not charge for alarms that are set off because of lightning or other "acts of God," Buschena said.
Out of 977 alarms in 2006, seven were cited as crimes in progress. The remaining 970 were categorized as false alarms.
The Bismarck Fire Department does not charge for false alarms, although Assistant Chief of Operations Kermit Schaefer said they are taken very seriously because they take away from the rest of area coverage. The fire department responded to 478 false alarms in 2006, Schaefer said. In total, the department responded to 2,366 alarms.
Property and business owners can prevent false alarms by keeping fire detectors clean, Schaefer said. Also, it helps to keep the system up to date and, if the building is dusty or being remodeled, make sure to keep it as clean as possible as dust can set off the alarm.