Board considers approving ordinance to assess penalty for sixth false alarm

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen recently discussed the possibility of establishing an ordinance that would assess a penalty for a sixth false alarm.
The discussion was conducted during the portion of its Aug. 20 meeting designated for reports from board members.
Alderman Karl Chambless suggested that the proposed ordinance allow five false alarms. But a “penalty fee” would be assessed for the sixth one.
Town Attorney Richard Myers said Memphis has a “pretty good” ordinance that covers commercial and residential alarms. While noting that it requires a permit and an annual payment of $5, he said it also lists the penalties for false alarms.
Mayor Chris Goodman said the “highest volume” of false alarms in Oakland is from commercial businesses.
“I don’t know the statistics,” he acknowledged. “We’ll pull them before the next meeting and determine the volume.”
Alderman Kelly Rector said the administration should work “in conjunction” with the police and fire departments to “find out exactly” where the largest number of false alarms originate.
Chambless said there are many houses in Fayette County where alarms are “constantly going off,” because the wind blows or a “dog bumps the door.” So, if 10 false alarms occur at one location, he wondered whether the 11th one receives the attention it deserves.
But Goodman said both he and Fire Chief Stephen Walls can “assure” Chambless.
“If it’s one, or if it’s 50,” the mayor noted, “they’re going to make the same run out to that house or business every time. They may complain on the way.”
Chambless acknowledged that, anytime an alarm goes off, he is not aware of anyone doing anything except “getting there as quickly as possible.”
“Certainly,” Goodman replied.
“But,” Chambless noted, “I think where I was trying to make my point is that, if you have an alarm and then a legitimate call, you spread yourself thin.”
“I totally agree,” the mayor responded.
Goodman said the administration would begin working on the proposed ordinance and “report back” with the statistics it has at tomorrow night’s board meeting.