False alarm bylaw passes first reading in Wetaskiwin

First reading for a new false alarm bylaw in the City of Wetaskiwin was approved by council.

First reading for a new false alarm bylaw in the City of Wetaskiwin was approved by council.

The decision came during council’s Sept. 26 meeting, but there were conflicting opinions between councillors and protective services regarding portions of the proposed bylaw.

Fire chief Leigh Sawicki says the goal of the bylaw is to help reduce the number of false alarms in the city.

Last year 463 false alarms were responded to; 526 in 2015; 539 in 2013; 530 in 2012; and 515 in 2011.

Sawicki says alarms are being attended to by emergency personnel where no emergency has taken place yet building and homeowners have not taken the proper courses of action to let others know it was a false alarm.

Fines will not be given right away as home and business owners will have opportunity to improve their alarm systems if a false alarm does go off.

“We’re not trying to deter people from putting in an alarm system,” said Sawicki. However, he is hoping with the bylaw people will become more conscientious of alarm triggers.

Coun. Wayne Neilson questioned why penalties for businesses were listed higher than those for homeowners.

“Most times when personnel show up they have the opportunity to speak with people to see what happened and rectify,” said Sawicki.

He feels the same opportunity does not always present itself with businesses, especially if they have closed for the night. “We just felt the onus on the businesses was more important.”

Neilson, however, would like to see more consistency with the bylaw. “They have equal opportunity to fix it.”