Myrtle Beach considers charging for false alarms - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Myrtle Beach considers charging for false alarms

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Today, the Myrtle Beach City Council will review an ordinance that will charge for false alarm calls that Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue has to deal with. This cost comes at a time when the department is dealing with the biggest amount of calls in their history—more than 11,000 calls for service.

Because they are dealing with such a large amount, they are finding a way to streamline all the calls so they can be more effective. With this ordinance, a business or home would be charged after the MB Fire Rescue comes out four times. Some hotels are having more than 15 false alarms a year, and since firefighters often have to deal with multiple calls at once, Chief Payne says it's taking them away from real emergencies that are affecting average citizens. City council will ultimately decide how much the fee will be.

Myrtle Beach's Fire Chief says it costs them $176 every time they have to send out their engines when they get a fire alarm call. A bulk of their calls are false alarm calls, which wastes their time, money, and resources. Last year about 1,500 of their calls were for false alarms, and only five were actual fires. When this happens, it can even affect their four-minute response time, which means it could affect lives.

Chief Payne says it's not about making the money back, or giving people a penalty, but the department wants to send a message to people that they need to make sure they have properly working fire alarm systems. It's a safety issue on both sides.

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