New False Alarm Law To Begin

SNOW HILL – Each year false alarms cost thousands of dollars in equipment, fuel and manhours and place lives in danger. To decrease the number of false alarms to which fire fighters and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers respond, the County Commissioners adopted Bill 09-3 (Public Safety–Nuisance Alarms) on June 16, a law that will become active on Aug. 1.

This bill adds a new section to the Fire Prevention Code regarding false and nuisance alarms for fire and medical services to which the county’s public safety agencies respond and includes fees for such services. The fees are not revenue generating sources, but should act as strong motivators to owners to repair faulty systems in a timely manner.

A false alarm is the activation of any type of equipment, appliance or system caused by the negligence or intentional misuse of the alarm system by the owner, its employees and agents, as well as any other alarm activation not caused by heat, smoke or fire which prompts a response from fire fighters or EMS providers.

“A commercial structure, such as a motel, that generates multiple calls due to a malfunctioning fire alarm would be an example of a commercial structure in violation of the new law,” said Fire Marshal Jeff McMahon. “However, not all false alarms are classified as a nuisance.”

An alarm that is deemed legitimate but does not require any response by fire or EMS officials would not be considered a nuisance.

To learn more about how to properly maintain an existing system or for help in purchasing a new system, visit the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) at