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68 calls in 3 months: False alarms from Yellowknife apartment have to stop, city says

The City of Yellowknife says it’s had 68 calls for emergency services to the Norseman Manor apartment building in the last three months. Ninety per cent of those were false alarms.

'These non-emergency calls exhaust our resources and detract from urgent care where it is needed'

Emergency services have had to respond to 68 calls to Norseman Apartments in the last three months. Ninety per cent of those calls were false alarms. (Hilary Bird/CBC)

The City of Yellowknife says it's had 68 calls for emergency services to a single Yellowknife apartment building in the last three months. 

From January to March 2022, emergency services, including fire and ambulance services, have been called 68 times to Norseman Apartments in the city's downtown. 

Of those calls, 90 per cent were false alarms.

"The [City of Yellowknife] wants to strongly reaffirm that unintentional and intentional activation of emergency services when no actual emergency exists affects the ability and attention of the Fire Division to assist people who might be facing real emergencies," a city spokesperson wrote in an email. 

"These non-emergency calls exhaust our resources and detract from urgent care where it is needed elsewhere."

There have been days where the fire service has had to respond to Norseman Apartments multiple times in a 24 hour period. 

Tenants in the apartment directly beside Norseman also dealt with a swath of false alarms in 2019. An article by NNSL said there were so many alarms at Crestview Apartments that year that tenants stopped leaving the building when they heard one. 

If caught, people who intentionally pull fire alarms can be criminally charged. According to Cabin Radio, a woman was charged with "false alarm of fire" in 2019 for an incident at Crestview Apartments, just beside the Norseman building. 

The city wouldn't say how much a false alarm call-out costs the fire service but its website does say that property owners would be charged $2,500 if there are more than two false alarms in a year.

An executive with Northview REIT, which owns Norseman Apartments, said they are aware of the issue and are taking steps to improve security in the building, though she didn't say what those steps were. 

"This is an issue that is a real concern for our residents, Northview and emergency responders," Northview's vice president of operations, Linay Freda, wrote in an email. "Our residents deserve to be able to enjoy their homes without these disturbances and the community needs to know that its emergency services are available to deal with actual emergencies."

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