The Hall County Board of Commissioners is hoping to reduce the number of false fire alarms with a new resolution that would penalize repeat offenders.
Presented at Monday’s work session, the resolution sets up a fee schedule for excessive false alarms.
Fire Chief David Kimbrell said Hall County Fire Services responds to between 720 and 750 false alarms each year, which is costly for the department.
Kimbrell estimates it costs between $500 and $700 each time the department responds to an alarm.
"If we can reduce that down, naturally it would save costs," he said.
Kimbrell said the department hopes implementing a fee for repeated false alarms will make people more conscious of the issue without discouraging them from using a fire alarm.
"We just want the alarms that are in to work properly," Kimbrell said. "It’s an indication that it would be cheaper to have a good working alarm than to pay the administrative fees for false alarms."
Kimbrell said a number of false alarms are caused by improper maintenance. Heat sensors also can go off if the temperature rises too quickly in a room.
After responding to a false alarm, Fire Services will leave information about the regulations.
"After that first call they get a copy of the ordinance and a form letter from us that will instruct them to have someone check their alarm," Kimbrell said. "If it goes off again, built into the fee schedule there’s an administrative fee of $100 if they do not give us a letter saying they’ve had their alarm system checked. They can submit a letter that said they had their alarm system checked and this was the cause of it and have that fee waived."
The Hall County Sheriff’s Office also has a high number of false alarms. The office estimates that about 7,000 of the 10,000 burglar alarms they respond to each year are false.
The commissioners were interested in pursuing a similar false alarm resolution tailored to the Sheriff’s Office.
In other business Monday, Community Service Center Director Phillippa Lewis Moss presented information to the commission about advertising on Hall Area Transit vehicles and bus shelters.
She said early research indicates that after retrofitting the buses for ads, wiring the shelters and sharing money with the other government agencies that fund the transit system, there would not be a large profit margin.
"Urban populations under 200,000 like Gainesville-Hall County are in a unique position in that half of our operation is paid for by the federal government," Moss said. "When we make money, we need to share it."
Chairman Tom Oliver said he didn’t like the idea.
"I think you cheapen your county," Oliver said. "I don’t like billboards in any form or fashion."
Commissioner Steve Gailey commented that he didn’t think it was enough of a return on investment, and Commissioner Bobby Banks said it would also take advertising revenue away from The Times and WDUN.
The commission decided to wait to hear perspective from the city of Gainesville, which equally funds Hall Area Transit, before making a decision.