The Town of Blackfalds is taking steps to decrease the number of false alarms its enforcement and protective service agencies are forced to respond to.
At its regular meeting on March 25, Blackfalds Town council voted to give first reading to Security Alarm System Bylaw 1176/14, which puts restrictions on what kind of alarm systems can be installed within Blackfalds, fees to be applied to users when a false alarm occurs and outlines the responsibilities of alarm users and alarm companies.
In introducing the proposed bylaw, Chief Administrative Officer Myron Thompson commented on how false alarms are becoming an increasing problem not just in Blackfalds but municipalities across Canada because of residential and non-residential alarm systems becoming more commonplace. Thompson added that such false alarms create a burden on Blackfalds RCMP and fire departments and can impede responses to genuine emergencies.
Councillor Dean Wigmore moved to give the bylaw first reading, but stated that he also wanted to make sure the public was made aware of the bylaw and given some opportunity to share their thoughts on the proposed bylaw, if even in an informal manner. While a public hearing is not necessary for this bylaw, Wigmore and other councillors voiced their feelings that such an opportunity would be valuable.
“I do see value in having feedback, especially on something like this that could potentially be a contentious issue,” said Wigmore. “I think this is a very responsible bylaw and one that will be of use to our community.”
To that effect, Wigmore also made a motion to have notice of the proposed bylaw posted on the Town of Blackfalds homepage as well as the Town’s Facebook page. Both motions were passed unanimously.
Among the rules regarding alarm system use in Blackfalds, the bylaw states that no one may use any device that automatically dials 911 or any other telephone number used by Blackfalds RCMP or fire department. Users are also required to put alarms out of service when testing or performing maintenance on them, so as not to cause a false alarm.
Also included in the bylaw are fines for users whose alarms issue a false alarm. While there are exceptions outlined in the bylaw for false alarms accidentally causes by storms lightning and other such Acts of God, generally speaking alarm users will be given one warning after the bylaw has been passed and then will receive a fine for each false alarm thereafter.
Alarm companies also share some responsibility for false alarms under the proposed bylaw. Such companies must provide proof that customers have been notified of the bylaw after installing any alarms and must verify alarm signals before requesting police or fire response.
The Security Alarm System Bylaw, will be presented to council again on April 8 at its regular meeting.