July 25, 2008
Fire Chief proposes fines


GOFFSTOWN - At Monday night's Board of Selectmen meeting, Fire Chief Rich O'Brien proposed an ordinance with fines for homeowners, businesses and others who have false or nuisance alarms. A nuisance alarm is one that goes off because the system has malfunctioned. A false alarm is one that has been pulled maliciously or accidentally.

The Fire Department would have a 45-day grace period for people who have recently installed an alarm system. After that, it starts counting the unwarranted alarms. At the fourth alarm the fines kick in and increase with each additional incident in a 12-month period. For the fourth false alarm, the fine is $50. The fifth is $100. The fourth and fifth nuisance alarm fines would be less – $25 and $50, respectively.

The ordinance would hopefully cause some of the biggest offenders to address their alarm issues, O’Brien said.

One of those is Saint Anselm College, where the Fire Department responded to 237 alarms during the past school year.

Roughly a third of those were nuisance alarms, department records show. One dormitory, Hilary Hall, had 12 such alarms. Under the ordinance, the college would have been fined $675 for the incidents in that building.

Selectman Scott Gross wondered if the fines should be even higher.

“I’m not so sure that $675 is enough of a deterrent,” Gross said.

The board will have to hold a series of public hearings on the ordinance and a similar one being developed for the police.

Several selectmen have suggested that the two should be combined into one ordinance, to make them more understandable for the average homeowner.


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