Culver Considers False Fire Alarm Fee Increases

The Culver Town Council may soon be considering whether to punish property owners with repeated false fire alarm calls.

An ordinance was introduced during a meeting last night that looks to increase fees if the number of fire department responses surpasses three visits. The ordinance, in its current form, is an amendment to an existing ordinance and was developed after the fire department complained about resources being used repeatedly for no particular good reason.

Town Council President Ginny Bess Munroe says a placement for the revenue generated off the fees isn’t quite finalized.

“What we talked about was setting up something within the General Fund for emergency services because when there’s a false alarm called, police and EMS are also called out,” says Munroe.

Currently, the Town of Culver charges $100 for three or more false fire alarm calls. The amendment would increase the amount to $250, $350, and $500 for each fire call above three. One resident commented the Town was being too considerate.

Town Attorney Jim Clevenger has indicated to the Town Council that the ordinance may need to be rewritten entirely.

Culver Fire Chief Terry Wakefield says using the funds for General Fund purposes may present problems for future equipment upgrades, saying a separate fire department fund may be a better use.

“It was set up so that when we go to buy a $500-thousand or $700-thousand [fire truck] we don’t have to go to the General Fund and take it, we can use it maybe as a matching fund for a grant or whatever money it is, and that was why it was set up to begin with,” says Wakefield.

The Town Council questioned the use of the fire department fund, saying flexibility with the cash may be the best option. Some of the ordinance will be dictated by state law – which was presented to the Town Council for review, Monday night.

The Town Council must hold a Public Hearing on the ordinance before it goes to first reading. That will likely take place at their next meeting.