Riverside county approves fines for false alarms

Ordinance will penalize residents and businesses who trigger false fire alarms

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Riverside County supervisors signed off on plans Tuesday to establish penalties for individuals or businesses responsible for triggering false fire alarms that needlessly divert emergency resources.  

Without comment, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 -- with Chairman John Tavaglione absent -- to authorize the Office of Emergency Services to work with the Office of County Counsel on finalizing an ordinance.

Supervisor Jeff Stone last year raised the issue of false alarms and what might be done to prevent them while considering ways to save the fire department money as it struggled to pare down a $5 million budget deficit.

According to the fire department, firefighters responded to 2,110 false alarm calls -- or an average of six per day -- countywide in 2011.

"These calls range from someone pulling the fire alarm erroneously at a school to not turning off a house alarm in time," according to an OES document. "Responding to these calls prolongs the time that it can take for the (fire) department to respond to a bona fide emergency and can ultimately jeopardize the health, welfare and safety of Riverside County residents."

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