Baltimore County, Md., Council Proposes Increases in False Alarm Fines

In Baltimore County, Md., false alarm numbers have evoked the interest of fire officials and County Council members.

Citing high numbers of false fire alarms - only 20 percent were real alarms -- the council has pushed forward a law that, if approved, would raise the penalties on false fire alarms.

In a report in the Baltimore Sun, Fire Chief Tom Schaech has called false alarms "dangerous," and Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company's Public Information Officer James Lyons says that 85 percent of false fire alarms were coming from automated fire alarm systems, with most of those, 65 percent, coming from business locations.

To respond to the problem, two of the county council members , Robert Cassilly and Diom Guthrie, have proposed an ordinance that would increase fines for false fire alarms. The proposed fee schedule would be:

  • First false alarm - no charge
  • Second false alarm - $100
  • Third false alarm - $500
  • Fourth false alarm - $1,000
  • Each additional false alarm - $1,000

Alarms would be levied based upon number of false alarms in a calendar year, and the proposed legislation would put direct the fines to the general fund, not to the county's fire departments.

The proposed law will be featured at a public hearing on Tuesday, April 12, 2005, at 6:45 p.m.