Fire Department to Enforce Fines for Repeat False Alarms

Consistent with other Bay Area cities, the Alameda Fire Department (AFD) will begin billing residents and commercial building occupancies for fire responses to false alarms from built in and both monitored and unmonitored fire alarm systems starting Monday, Oct. 1. 
AFD defines a fire false alarm as any fire alarm sounding situation where fire suppression activities are not needed upon arrival. 
In 2017 AFD responded to more than 400 false fire alarms.These create longer response times to true emergencies such as actual fires, water rescues and victims of medical emergencies. 
AFD relies on a rapid-response model and when fire apparatus is tied up on false alarms, other fire companies are called in, which delays help at other emergencies. This can be very dangerous, as a residential fire will double in size every minute and irreversible brain damage will begin after four minutes if someone is not resuscitated quickly.
Fire alarms systems are required for most residences and commercial spaces and to provide quick notice of a fire situation and to quickly exit the building for safety purposes. Many alarm systems are monitored and have a direct tie to AFD. 
It is vitally important to always call 911 when an alarm sounds. Highly trained AFD personnel will arrive on scene and ensure the building is safe to re-occupy and to help restore the alarm system back to a ready state. 
“It is not the policy of the AFD to use the false fire alarm fine structure to develop revenue for the department,” said Fire Chief Edmond Rodriguez. “Instead these fines act as a deterrent for false alarms. The department will also assist property owners with establishing a fully functional system for their safety and property conservation.”
In July 2018, the Alameda City Council adopted the following fee schedule for false fire alarms that resets on a six-month basis:

Residential Fines

First alarm - No charge
Second alarm -  $236.00
Third alarm - $296.00
Fourth alarm - $296.00
Each additional - $606.00
 
Commercial Fines
 
First alarm - No charge
Second alarm - $296.00
Third alarm - $606.00, 
fire inspection*
Each additional - $606.00

 

*A fire inspection will be initiated with the property or business owner to work on system improvements and prevent false fire alarms from reoccurring.