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REPORTING · 21st June 2015
Walter McFarlane
The Kitimat City Council was given a report on the Crime Statistics in their Information package for their Regular Meeting of Council on June 8th. Councillor Larry Walker noticed there was a number of False Alarms for 2014, 340 for the year.

“I tried to visualize this, an alarm comes in, the RCMP dispatches from out of the office, a squad car, possibly two officers to an alarm, they arrive on scene, they first have to secure the sight to make sure something is or is not happening, then they have to do an investigation to determine what happened to cause the alarm to go off, then they have to go into the police station and file a report,” suggested Walker. “To me, this means an awful lot of Man Hours that we’re paying for that’s not benefiting the community.”

He pointed out that there were communities in BC, such as Kelowna, which have instituted a false alarm bylaw, where there are fines for more than a certain amount of false alarms.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff wanted to see the bylaw, so he made a motion to get a copy of it. It was also suggested they talk to the RCMP about this.

Staff Sergeant Phil Harrison, accompanied by Sergeant Graham Morgan came to Council on Monday, June 15th to address the Council on the False Alarms. He explained the number of false alarms corresponded to the buildup of the population when Rio Tinto Alcan began their modernization. He expected this will drop off until the next projects get going.

Feldhoff wanted to know the difference between a false alarm and a false 911 call. Harrison explained the False Alarm came from an alarm company indicating an intrusion to a residence or business. Sometimes, the alarms pick up mice or a moving poster.

Walker wanted to know how many man hours were generated by a false alarm. He was told the amount of time varied based on a number of factors, but most likely around 25 minutes per call. Walker said this was faster than he anticipated.

“It’s a small town,” said Harrison.

Germuth asked if there were any problem locations in town.

“We do have a few, but, about six months ago, I instituted a program where, once we realized we were having three or more calls from the same residence or the same location in a twelve month period, I sent out letters saying we were no longer going to be attending their alarm calls until such time as they supply a letter to us from their technician saying their alarms been serviced and it’s operating properly again,” said Harrison.

He told the Council that once the problem with the alarm has been fixed, they resumed service until the location had three more false alarms. He said they are anticipating a drop, although he was uncertain if this was because of the letters or the decrease in population. He expressed one of the reasons he implemented this was because he was concerned about members injuring someone accidentally while responding to a false alarm.

He was not certain the rate of Kitimat’s False Alarms were high or not.

Councillor Edwin Empinado asked if they should have a bylaw concerning false alarms. Harrison said he would leave it to Council. He told Council something needed to be done, which is why he instituted a false alarm policy in the first place.

The Kitimat City Council thanked Staff Sergeant Phil Harrison for his service. He is retiring and the meeting took place at the start of his last week on the job. He thanked Harrison for his role in communicating with the public in the media.

“I want to publically say that this is my last week and it has been a pleasure and a really enjoyable time to be living in Kitimat. The past two and a half years have been just wonderful. I’ve really enjoyed it and I’d like to thank the Council and the Mayor for your support and encouragement, the previous Council as well and the Chief and Council of the Haisla Nation as well. It has been a great working relationship and I sure hope it continues,” said Harrison.

Later in the meeting, Walker stated he had requested the figures for the number of false alarms from the Fire Department. He wanted to table the further action until they had talked to them. Council was informed there were 37 instances with the Fire Department that could be called false alarms in 2014 and 20 this year.

Feldhoff moved to receive the report for information, stating he could bring it back when it is more appropriate. The motion was called and carried.