Okla. Fire Department Credits Ordinance for False Alarm Reduction

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Since implementing an ordinance two years ago aimed at stemming a rise in false fire alarms, the Muskogee Fire Department (MFD) has seen a significant drop in dispatches to unwanted alarms, reports MuskogeePhoenix.com.

When the department began tracking false alarms with its new software system in 2008, officials learned that firefighters responded to 302 false alarms, accounting for 12.9% of total calls for service. The following year, false fire alarms increased 38%, to 415 alarms (16.4% of all service responses).

To combat the false alarms, the city of Muskogee executed the ordinance in March 2010. The rule allows alarm owners three false alarms per year. Offenders must pay a fee of $50 for the fourth false alarm; fifth, $100; sixth and more, $200.

In the year the ordinance took effect, MFD responded to 618 false fire alarms, 23.4% of total incident responses. This past year, the department responded to 266 false alarms, a 57% decrease compared to 2010, which amounted to a four-year low. Employing the false alarm ordinance helps MFD to manage its resources better, Muskogee Fire Chief Derek Tatum told MuskogeePhoenix.com.

“The emergency response itself puts people in jeopardy,” he explained. “But the biggest issue is apathy among those who live or work in a facility where there are a lot of false alarms. The intent [of this ordinance] was to get the facility to take care of their systems so this [complacency] doesn’t happen, and it seems to be working.”

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