False fire alarms can cause a strain on volunteer fire departments and emergency personnel. At the May 1st meeting, the Alexander County Board of Commissioners approved a false fire alarm ordinance that allows fines to be charged for repeat offenders, with the goal of reducing the number of false alarms. The board also approved an update to the fire prevention and protection ordinance.
Fire Marshal Mark Earle presented both ordinances to the board. He said the fire prevention ordinance is mostly the same, with some minor wording changes to be more in line with the North Carolina Fire Prevention code. There are no fee increases for fire inspections or violations in the updated ordinance.
Earle said the false fire alarm ordinance has been needed for some time, as the number of false alarms continues to rise. He said that fire departments are required to respond to every fire alarm.
According to the ordinance, false alarms are based on a 12-month tracking schedule. There is no charge for the first two false alarms, but the third and fourth alarms will each have a $50 fee, the fifth and sixth alarms will cost $100 each, and seven or more alarms will cost $250 each. The ordinance becomes effective June 1.
“We encourage businesses and homeowners to have their alarm systems checked if they’re experiencing false alarms,” said Earle. “Our fire departments only have limited volunteers to respond to calls, and a false alarm could hinder emergency services if an actual fire or emergency occurs.”
In other business:
• Commissioners approved five budget amendments. One amendment adjusted the multi-year grant project budget for the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) water line extension project in the amount of $92,585 to pay the financial match to Yadtel/Zirrus for the GREAT (Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology) grant broadband project. Another amendment totaled $175,000 to budget for the 2022-2023 estimated expenses for the Bethlehem and Sugar Loaf school projects.
• During commissioner reports, Kent Herman said he recently attended a meeting of the Ellendale Volunteer Fire Department. Josh Lail said he presented a “Key to the County” to Guy Kerley at his retirement reception. Marty Pennell said he attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Paragon Films site.
• During the public comment portion of the meeting, Todd Lail of White Farm Lane expressed his appreciation for getting county water on his road, but also expressed concerns about a drainage issue following construction. He asked commissioners to investigate the matter.
• The board reappointed Carol Biggs for a three-year term on the Region E Long-Term Care Community Advisory Committee.
The next meeting of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners is set for Monday, May 15 at 6:00 p.m. at the CVCC Alexander Center for Education (room #103). Regular meetings are recorded and can be viewed on the county’s Government Channel on Spectrum channel 192 or the county’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/alexandercountync. Meeting agendas, minutes, videos, and more are available on the county’s website at https://alexandercountync.gov/commissioners.