False fire alarms can lead to fines for Longview residents, businesses

City ordinance has been in place since 2011
A Longview city ordinance means residents and business owners could face a $250 fine once they...
A Longview city ordinance means residents and business owners could face a $250 fine once they hit five false alarms in a calendar year. The ordinance has been in place since 2011. (Jamey Boyum/KLTV Multimedia Journalist)
Updated: Mar. 5, 2019 at 5:33 PM CST
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LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - If you live in Longview, and your fire alarm cries wolf one too many times, it can cost you. The city ordinance isn’t new, but many don’t realize it has been in effect since 2011.

An alarm sounds and a fire crew heads out. That’s what’s supposed to happen. That’s what fire departments are for. But according to Longview Fire Marshal Kevin May if it’s not a real fire, it can be expensive.

“If you have more than four false alarms in a calendar year, then you will start getting billed for the false alarm charges,” May said.

That’s at the same address, and it goes for anyone with an alarm.

“Businesses and residences; it all applies,” May stated.

It’s a little better than baseball. You get four strikes.

“We’ll notify you, and then on the fifth one, you start getting charged $250 every time there’s a false alarm at that business or that residence,” May explained.

And the sixth time and the seventh and so on. May says Longview averages two false alarms a day.

“A lot of time,s it’s a problem with the alarm system not being properly maintained,” May said.

Or other reasons.

“Construction being done, housekeeping being done where they didn’t adequately secure the alarm system by putting it on test,” May said.

He says it doesn’t even have to be smoke that sets off an alarm.

“People doing breathing treatments; the steam or the mist will set off the smoke detector,” May stated.

Showers have done it, too. When a call comes in, they send:

“A minimum of two fire engines, one ladder truck and one battalion chief. That’s taking away resources from somebody else in the city that may have a true emergency at that same time,” May said.

Strike five will get you billed $250 by mail, which actually doesn’t cover the expense of sending out the firefighting crew.

May says they do not want to discourage the installation of a fire alarm since alarms do expedite firefighters’ arrival and can save lives.

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