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False alarm ordinance introduced in Putnam County

(WSAZ)
Published: Dec. 13, 2016 at 6:46 PM EST
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PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Accidentally setting off your home security alarm can happen to anyone as they leave their home, but in Putnam County, if it happens too often you could face fines.

A new ordinance introduced will fine homeowners and businesses that officers respond to for false alarms more than three times in a 12 month window.

Hamm Gresham lives in Putnam County and his against such an ordinance.

"You know I make a mistake and open up the door, and close it but that shouldn't be my fault," Gresham said.

"This is just becoming an ongoing issue with the county," said Richard Pullin with the Putnam County Fire Service Board.

Pullin says the new ordinance is needed because first responders are too often getting tied up on false alarm calls. Pullin says in the 2015-2016 fiscal year Putnam County officials recorded 704 false alarms. Putnam County Sheriff Steve Deweese says his office sees about three false alarm calls a day.

"We're just getting to an age now where alarm systems are common," Pullin said. "They're very normal out there in the system. The issue that comes along with these systems is maintaining them. It's keeping them up to date, it's addressing any faulty equipment issues with them, and what we're finding is those issues aren't being addressed."

The first two false alarms are free, but after the third call is a $50 fine. A fourth costs $100, five will cost you $200 and six and more will cost $300.

"We're after chronic offenders that have alarm systems that they would rather not maintain rather than have the system working properly," Pullin said.

"I don't think it's fair to charge the homeowner for a false alarm when I pay the monthly fee for the security system," Gresham said. "Then the security company ought to be the ones to be fined."

Officials say as long as a false alarm call is cancelled before someone gets on scene, the call will not count against you. The ordinance goes into effect Feb. 1.