“Often times what these systems what they're doing is they're installing one smoke detector that is connected to the panel and that panel is what communicates with their central and what calls us out. Unfortunately, those smoke detectors are installed in locations where they're set off easily, there not necessarily in the best location." - Justin Smith, Casper Firefighter
The Casper Fire Department responded to more than 200 false alarm calls last year, but in the near future every one of those may soon cost the resident a hundred dollars. Casper Firefighter Justin Smith says, "What we are running into is again we have smoke detectors that are installed in bad locations, they're too close to the kitchen to close to the bathrooms, whatever the case may be. So we're being sent out when people aren't even home because detectors are going off for erratic reasons," and Casper’s Mayor Paul Meyer Agrees. "If we have people that are not if after thirty-times not fixing the alarm glitch they have you have to put some teeth into the ordinance."
Firefighters are by no means saying to get rid of your smoke alarms. The biggest problem they see is when a homeowner has a security system that’s hooked up to one.
“Often times what these systems what they're doing is they're installing one smoke detector that is connected to the panel and that panel is what communicates with their central and what calls us out. Unfortunately, those smoke detectors are installed in locations where they're set off easily, there not necessarily in the best location," Smith said.
This is the second draft firefighters have brought to city council. Council members wanted the first one adjusted. "The most significant change from the original draft is that after a certain number of responses, we were not longer going to respond to that residence until the problem is fixed.” Meyer agrees. “Even if at thirty-times, if you ignore that call, very easily something bad could happen."
There is somewhat of a way around the fine by registering with the finance department at City Hall. "It's a ten dollar fee. What that does is help us track where the systems are and how many there may be. Systems that are not registered are subject to a fine on the first offense rather than the third offense," Smith said.
However, there are some very simple ways to avoid paying all together. "Make sure that the smoke detector that is in fact connected to the system is not to close to the kitchen or perhaps bathrooms where the steam can set it off. And second often times, you know cooking is the leading cause of fires in homes, so sometimes we need a little prevention with cooking, unattended cooking is the problem," Smith said.
The ordinance is only in its first reading and therefore must pass two more reading in city council. The council meets every first and third Tuesday of the month and Mayor Meyer says if you have any type of issue, problem, or just general comments about the ordinance to come to the meetings.