Council passes new false alarm law

Decision could reduce fines against Ball State.

Ball State received a late Christmas present Monday that could decrease the amount and number of fines for false fire alarms in some buildings.

Muncie City Council voted 9-0 to amend the current false-alarm fire ordinance. Now, buildings with more fire-alarm devices - including all buildings on campus - will be granted more false-alarm responses per year before they are charged a fee.

In the past, all buildings were granted two false fire alarms per calendar year. After these two false alarms, the city would impose a fine not more than $150.

The previous ordinance, however, did not take into consideration the number of alarm devices in a building, which was unfair, according to Muncie Fire Chief Gary Lucas.

"The way it stands now, it doesn't matter if you have one alarm device in your residential home or if you're a large commercial building that has 800 devices," Lucas said before the council voted to amend the ordinance.

"We felt like it was a fairness issue," he said. "If you've got more alarm devices in your building, you ought to have a few more free ones before you start getting charged."

The new amendment takes the number of fire alarm devices into consideration.

Ball State buildings with 51 to 250 alarm devices will be granted six responses per calendar year before a fine is charged. Buildings with more than 251 alarms are allotted nine responses per year.

The amendment gives more breathing room for 29 buildings on campus, all of which have more than 50 alarms.

Last year, according to the city clerk's office, the university was fined approximately $1,000 because of false fire alarms.

"I would say it would benefit (Ball State) some because in some buildings they have a fair number of devices," Lucas said.

Another important reason Lucas cited for adopting the ordinance concerned what property owners might consider doing if changes were not made.

"If we don't give people with large buildings a break, then there could possibly be a situation where they would want to disable the alarm and we definitely don't want that," he said.

Property owners who exceed the allotted number of false fire alarms under the new ordinance can still be fined up to $150; however, if the property owner pays the Office of the City Controller within 30 days of the date of the citation, he or she will pay $100.


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