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Third false alarm will cost you

Fire Department says new policy isn’t about money, but safety.

May 13, 2010|By Veronica Rocha

GLENDALE — In an effort to reduce costs and boost awareness, the Glendale Fire Department has started collecting fees from property owners who log three or more false fire alarms within a year.

The option to collect fees for responding to false fire alarms was established in July 2008, but wasn’t enforced until May 1 this year, Fire Capt. Vincent Rifino said.

Firefighters respond to about 1,000 false fire alarms annually at businesses, apartments and condominiums, he said. Without knowing the extremity of a potential blaze, firefighters use their red lights and sirens to get through traffic, which Rifino said can pose a considerable risk to them and the community.


“Our main concern is not to generate money,” he said. “It’s to get compliance for the safety of the community.”

False fire alarm calls peaked at slightly more than 1,000 in 2006 and 2007, with just slightly fewer in 2008 and 2009, according to the Fire Department.

“That’s unacceptable,” Rifino said.

Some businesses and residences have had more than three false alarms in less than a year, he said.

“This is always been a challenge for us to get compliance from the businesses,” Rifino said.

Responding to false fire alarms is a major drain on Fire Department resources, resulting in great costs to the public, Mayor Ara Najarian said.

“It definitely takes time and resources,” he said.

Collecting fees for false alarms will help recuperate costs when firefighters respond, Najarian said. The fee collection may also serve as a deterrent for some property and business owners, he added.

“We need to pass the costs down to the people who either have malfunctioning fire or smoke alarms,” Najarian said.

Glendale police also collects fees for false burglary alarms, which netted $156,141 in 2008-09 for responding to 3,230 bogus alarm calls, according to department statistics. Another $116,492 has been collected so far this year with officers responding to 2,485 false alarm calls.

The Fire Department’s move could also encourage property and business owners to fix faulty fire alarm systems, officials said.

The Fire Department notified business and property owners May 1 of the false alarm fee collection.

In the past, fire officials had simply sent letters to business and home owners who continually experienced false alarms requesting that they repair the defective systems, Rifino said.

The Fire Department will now use those records to pinpoint businesses and residences with more than three false alarms for follow up letters and fines, he said.

Building owners who have more than three false alarms within 12 months will be fined $120, according to the Fire Department. Any false alarm after that will result in a $360 fee.

Get in touch VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at veronica.rocha@

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