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Columbus police, firefighters to charge for excessive false alarms

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COLUMBUS, Ind — Businesses and residents will soon pay for excessive false alarms that require the Columbus police or fire departments to respond.

Charges, which are allowed by the city's municipal code, begin Jan. 1., 2013.

The Columbus Police Department has responded to 1,232 false alarms this year, while the Columbus Fire Department has responded to 359.

A city ordinance allows police to respond to three false alarms in a calendar year without charge. A charge of $25 will be assessed for the fourth and fifth false alarms each. Additional false alarms will cost $50 each.

The same city ordinance allows firefighters to respond to three to six false alarms in a calendar year without penalty, depending on the number of detectors and pull stations at a facility. The service charge is $50 for each of the next three false alarms, $100 for each of the following three and $200 for all subsequent false alarms.

Alarms triggered by severe weather, such as lightening strikes or high winds, are not included in the false alarm total.

The money generated by the service charge will be used for upgrading and buying equipment that police and firefighters use to response to alarms.

Columbus Fire Chief Dave Allmon and Columbus Police Chief Jason Maddix said business and residential alarms are important to prevent fire, criminal acts and the loss of life or property. But, they encourage businesses and residents are urged to test their alarms to ensure they work properly, to minimize the possibility of a false alarm.

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