Aug 12, 2014 11:33 AM by AP
HOUMA, La. (AP) - The Terrebonne Parish Council has delayed discussion on an ordinance that would make false police and fire alarms illegal.
The Courier reports confusion in the language of the ordinance led to it being tabled Monday until the next set of committee meetings in two weeks.
The ordinance, which springs from a rash of false alarms in the area, deals with excessive alarms due to faulty equipment. Under the measure, residents and business owners would be allowed three false alarms during a 12-month period before being fined.
After the fourth alarm, the resident or alarm company is subject to a $100 fine, the fifth carries a $200 fine, and sixth and any subsequent alarm carries a $400 fine. Lightning strikes, pressure changes in sprinkler systems, accidental smoke detection and deliberately activating an alarm station will not factor into the false alarm allotment.
In those instances, the alarm system did what it was supposed to do, Houma Fire Chief Todd Dufrene said.
Dufrene cited the Houma Highlands apartment complex on South Hollywood Road as a location that has been particularly problematic. In one instance the complex had six false alarms in the course of one week, he said.
According to Bayou Cane Fire Department's incident report, year to date in 2014 there have been 164 false alarms, which have accounted for just under 17 percent of all callouts.
If there is a false alarm at the same time as an actual alarm, the response time is delayed, Dufrene said.
"Unfortunately, response has to be the same for every alarm," Dufrene said.
"We don't want anybody to get fined. All we want is for the public to make sure their alarms are fixed," he said.
Council members questioned where the money would go once fines are paid.
Councilmen Greg Hood and John Navy also expressed concerns about the ordinance's enforcement.
"It's up to each department to decide whether or not to give out a warning or a citation," Dufrene said.
The ordinance will go before the council at its next committee meetings on Aug. 25.