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City Council Considers New Steps To Reduce False Fire Alarms

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

The Tulsa City Council is considering a new tactic to stop the number of fire alarms going off for no reason.

Fire Marshal andy Teeter says Tulsa crews are sometimes responding to the same building 2 or 3 times a day for what turns out to be a false alarm.

Now, it's like a crying wolf situation for people in these buildings and it's pulling firefighters from real emergencies.

Nuisance fire alarms can put people's lives at risk, like at Sandybrook apartments last year when a fire sent a woman to the hospital.

Crews went door-to-door because the fire alarm goes off so often that people don't bother to get out anymore.

Teeter says nuisance fire alarms are a city-wide problem.

"We go again and again to the same thing," said Teeter.  "There's commercial businesses, there's multi-family dwellings, there's high-rise buildings, it's a mixed bag."

He says the top 9 offenders for false alarms rang in nearly 800 calls in the past year.  The top 50 accounted for about 5-thousand calls, which is an average of 100 calls per building per year.

Station 27 at 31st and Garnett is the busiest fire station in Oklahoma.  These crews also respond to one of the top offenders for nuisance fire alarms in the City of Tulsa."

Tulsa City Councilor Karen Gilbert says "when they presented the stats, I was like 'you've got to be kidding me!'"

Councilor Gilbert wants to add a new section to the Tulsa Fire Code - if a false alarm happens more than 5 times in a month or more than 36 times in a year it's a fine and a misdemeanor.

"They've never had anything with teeth," said Councilor Gilbert.  "So this is just an extra tool for our firefighters to make sure that business owners keep their property safe."

That way crews are available to roll out to real emergencies.

"We miss a fire next door to this place or someone doesn't get rescued," said Teeter.  "Or someone has a heart attack and we don't get there in time.  That's the true cost, the safety."

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