HHI Fire & Rescue Trying to Slow False Alarm Calls - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

HHI Fire & Rescue Trying to Slow False Alarm Calls

2/4/13 -

False alarms are becoming somewhat of a headache for the Hilton Head Fire and Rescue Division.

More than 40% of last year's non-EMS calls were for false alarms, 785 calls last year, and officials say that's way too many.

"It is important to realize that in that category, there are false calls as well as alarm malfunctions.and its really the alarm malfunctions that we are trying to target and reduce the number because we are responding to way too many of them," said Chief Lavarn Lucas.

And heading to these false alarms is slowing down response time to real situations -- keeping crews away from an actual emergency an average of 15 minutes -- which does impact their duties.

"It hinders it, it doesn't preclude it, we operate seven stations so if we've got two or three units that are tied-up on a false alarm, we have plenty of other units that can respond, but they may have to travel a lot further in order to get to the emergency.and it delays that response."

As if delayed response isn't bad enough Lucas says there are many other reasons they need to slow these calls.

"Wear-and-tear on the apparatus, wear-and-tear just on the tires of the apparatus, you run an extra 500 calls a year you'll have to replace tires, and that gets expensive. There's an added fuel cost, it delays our response to other emergencies, it creates a real sense of complacency in the part of the emergency responder that oh, this is just another false alarm, when in reality it may not be."

The Fire and Rescue Division will present an action plan to Hilton Head Town Council on February 19th, and Chief Lucas says this plan will help make it easier for them to create an ordinance that fines repeat offenders for false alarms.

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