Town council denies request to reduce false fire alarm penalties

Council also affirmed the Kindersley Children’s Charter and the document will be displayed in public

Kenneth Brown
of The Clarion

Town council has once again upheld penalties for false fire alarms after a request to appeal fines.

Members of council discussed a recent appeal of fines from two false alarm invoices on Nov. 27 at their regular meeting. The request came from a local hotel business after it experienced two false fire alarms in the same day due, in part, to a mechanical glitch.

According to a letter from the hotel, the first false alarm occurred at about 1:30 a.m. after a guest was smoking in the hallway on the third floor. The alarm was cleared and, at about 8:30 a.m., it was triggered again by the same smoke detector on the third floor.

The letter states that a mechanical glitch with the alarm system caused the smoke detector to activate for a second time. The hotel submitted a work order from the alarm company to the town with its letter to appeal the fines.

Bernie Morton, the town’s chief administrative officer (CAO), said the false alarm policy is covered by the town’s Fire Prevention Bylaw, which details how false alarms are handled. The fines are $500 for a first offence, $3,000 for a second offence and $3,000 plus 10 per cent for each subsequent offence within a set time frame.

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The hotel received two invoices for $500 and $3,000 respectively for its false alarms. Morton said council is yet to waive the fines for false alarm violations and in all of the other situations, there was a reason the fire alarm went off.

He noted that the hotel provided the reason its fire alarm activated. He said the fire department responds to all 911 emergency calls no matter where its members are or what they’re doing, and all emergency calls are treated the same way. The CAO said he reviews all fire invoices and he encouraged council to stay the course.

“My personal recommendation is to remain consistent,” he said, adding there’s no question that the situation resulted in false alarms and he believes the municipality should not allow the appeal to proceed.

Councillor Gary Becker said council has not waived false alarm fines at any time in the past, so he was in agreement with the recommendation to uphold the fines. Councillor Elyse Moss said it’s taxing on the fire department to respond to false alarms, so she would support the recommendation as well.

Morton said penalties for false fire alarms are there for a reason. The first fine of $500 is meant to be a “significant” penalty to let people know false alarms will not be tolerated, and the $3,000 fine for second offences is meant to be shocking, he noted.

Deputy Mayor Ken Francis asked if it would make a difference if the false alarms occurred on the same day or if they happened a day or more apart.

Council members denied the request for an appeal and Francis asked administration to notify the business of the decision.

Other meeting highlights

• Council passed a resolution to affirm the Kindersley Children’s Charter and the document will be displayed in public to promote children’s rights.

A representative of Kindersley Integrated Children’s Services (KICS) presented the Children’s Charter. After reviewing the document, members decided to affirm the charter of rights and to encourage town employees and citizens to do the same.

The resolution, as read by Deputy Mayor Ken Francis, states that council affirms the principles contained in the charter and people who are invested in the community are encouraged to consider the principles when dealing with children.

A copy of the charter will be placed in town facilities to encourage people to uphold the principles. Councillor Elyse Moss said she believes it’s good to support the charter because it serves as a reminder that council has a responsibility to the community and its citizens.

The seven basic rights included in the charter are the right to basic needs, right to be loved, right to belong, right to be safe, right to play, right to learn and right to contribute. The charter expands on each of those seven basic needs.

• Council passed a resolution to write off various 2017 accounts. If the town is unable to collect the money owed, accounts are often written off.

The written off accounts include $1,418 owed for accounts receivable, $1,947 in utility billings and $33 in mobile home licensing fees. The accounts are written off for various reasons, such as people cannot be located, people have died or declared bankruptcy or the amount is too small to send to collections.

• Amendments are being made to the town’s Airport Bylaw and council has given the first reading to the amended bylaw. The second and third readings of Bylaw 10-17, a bylaw to regulate the Kindersley Regional Airport and to provide for airport authority, rules, regulations and fees, will be done in the future. The amendments include changes to bring the fees in line with other airports, according to Councillor Gary Becker.

• The town’s former arts, culture and heritage advisory committee has been terminated after council members passed a resolution at the meeting on Monday night.

The decision was in response to changes with how arts, culture and heritage groups now communicate with the town. The committee was established in 2009 and its terms of reference were updated in 2014, but the committee struggled with attendance. The groups are now communicating through an electronic newsletter.

• Council has given all readings to adopt amendments to the town’s Traffic Bylaw and General Penalty Bylaw. The changes were necessary due to the recent establishment of a bylaw court in Kindersley. The amendments were made to add new ticketing forms to the bylaws.

• Council passed a resolution to transfer $143,500 to a recreation reserve. The money was included in the 2017 budget for capital projects and purchases, but it wasn’t used and is to be held in reserve.

[/emember_protected] Kindersley town council

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