Nova Scotia

False alarms plague Halifax fire, police

Thousands of false alarm calls to Halifax fire and police every year are taking officers away from real emergencies, officials say.

Faulty security systems to blame

Thousands of false alarm calls to Halifax fire and police every year are taking officers away from real emergencies, officials say.

Halifax regional police responded to 10,000 false alarms in each of the last two years.

Const. Brian Palmeter said the majority of the false alarms were caused by faulty security systems.

"In some ways, we're happy that nobody is in distress, or nobody needs assistance. But, it does take officers out of the street and tie them up while they make sure everything is alright," he said Monday.

It was much the same story for the Halifax Regional Fire service

One-quarter of their 12,000 emergency calls last year were false alarms, also mainly caused by malfunctioning security systems, divisional fire chief Mike LeRue said.

"Well, for us, because we have 60 stations, you know, we spread the resources out quite well. But, it's when we're responding to a false alarm; we have issues when there are actual calls, and our resources are tied up then," he said. "That's when our resources could become strapped."

LeRue said it's also a drain on the department's budget.

"We drive big vehicles. Just to maintain the use of the vehicles alone, you're talking a lot of money there," he said. "It depends on the size, but we're getting vehicles that go four to five miles to the gallon."

Home and business owners can be fined $100 if their alarm systems accidentally call 911— but the fines only kick in on the second offence.

LeRue said increasing the fines may not bring down the number of false alarms. People need to keep their home security systems up to date and in proper working order, he said.