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Turning off fire alarms to avoid fines

Two city councillors are vowing to extinguish the fire department’s crackdown on false alarms as residents unplug their security systems for fear of hefty fines. 

Two city councillors are vowing to extinguish the fire department’s crackdown on false alarms as residents unplug their security systems for fear of hefty fines.

Gloria Lindsay Luby said she will table a motion early in the new year that would restore a previous rule allowing residents one false alarm per year without being fined.

Councillors approved a zero tolerance approach in February without being told by fire officials that single-family homes would be hit the same as highrises, or that the routine dispatch of three trucks would turn a $350 per vehicle fine into a $1,050 bill, she said.

Two constituents, David Wunker and Art Ludlum, contacted her to say they can’t afford to risk another malfunction.

“Every homeowner in Toronto should think seriously about disconnecting quickly,” wrote Ludlum, 86, after his first false alarm in 16 years of owning a system.

Wunker said the fines are a “money-making exercise — a tax, not cost-recovery,” and he will quit his alarm contract if the company can’t assure him it won’t report any activation to the fire department.

Coun. Peter Milczyn went to bat for homeowner Andrew Cole, but says he got only a “convoluted response” from the fire department. Cole pulled the plug.

Fire Chief Jim Stewart defended the bylaw, saying too many fire crews are being tied up by thousands of “nuisance” false alarms.

 
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