Vermilion Parish starts fines after fourth false fire alarm - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Vermilion Parish starts fines after fourth false fire alarm

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If you live or own a business in Vermilion Parish, you'll soon start paying fines if firefighters respond to a false alarm at your home or office.

The police jury approved the fines this week after fire departments complained about responding to hundreds of false alarms, and it's costing them money.

"I have a dual perspective. I've had false alarms here at my business, and we responded to it and corrected the problem," Brent Frith said. Frith is a restaurant owner of B's Wild Wings in Kaplan and also a volunteer firefighter. 

"As a firefighter, I've had repetitive calls where we had to engage in emergency response." 

The parish made 564 fire calls in 2016. Of that number, more than half were false alarms. Firefighters responded to 328 false alarm calls. 

"We have a lot of fire departments that go out in the middle of the day and night," Kaplan Fire Chief Jacob Mathiew said. "They're taking resources out the fire department, and it's beginning to be too much."

Property owners will be fined $100 on their fourth false alarm in a year and $200 on their fifth false alarm. Fines will increase from there.

According to Mathiew, the false alarms are costing money. "At $50 dollars a call for fuel and man power, the prices could add up to $17,000."

"I think it's very fair," Frith said about the new ordinance. "It cost the parish money every time we respond. There's a risk factor and lives could be in danger while we're responding to an emergency or potential emergency." 

While the ordinance is a way to prevent those calls from happening, it's also a way to urge alarm companies to fix their systems. 

"A couple of problems we had was the alarm companies themselves just not wanting to fix the problem," Mathiew said. "This is what the ordinance is for. It kind of gives it a leg to stand on."

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