The cost of a false alarm

Yesterday (12/12) I got sworn in and participated in my first council meeting. One thing on the agenda was to vote for renewal of the contract with Bellevue Fire Department. As we were looking at the contract we had an interesting discussion around the cost of a false alarm. I decided to do some math to figure out how much a false alarm cost the Town.

NOTE: I’m certainly not encouraging anybody to avoid calling the fire department. Below is a pure mathematical and hypothetical example.

We will be paying $223,201 to the Bellevue Fire department for its services in 2018. 50% of this fee is based on the 5 year average of calls for service (CFS). In 2016 we had a total of 68 CFS. Out of these 68 service calls, 25% were false alarms. 2017 looks a little bit better with only 16% of the alarms being false (Jan – Oct data). Using the 2016 data for our calculation we can conclude that we will be paying $27,900 (spread out over the next 5 years for these false alarm).

That is about $1,500 per false alarm.

An outreach campaign to make residents aware sounds appropriate. Some towns even impose a fee for false alarms, here is one example from Connecticut . Something to be considered in Yarrow Point?