New, simpler fire alarm ordinance

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A new fire alarm ordinance will be easier to understand and more in line with other ordinances throughout the state, according to Chris Ford, chairman of the alarms subcommittee.

“Our current ordinance is somewhat, for lack of a better word, archaic. It’s very limiting on things,” Ford said.

The new ordinance gives the fire commission power to reduce, eliminate or dismiss fees whereas before they could only remove late penalties.

The new ordinance will also extend the time for appeals from 10 to 25 days by dividing it into two steps – intent to appeal and the appeal itself.

“We have to reject a significant amount of appeals out of hand because they don’t meet the 10-day requirement because people have trouble getting documents from the police or fire department or from the alarm company themselves,” Ford said.

The extension won’t make a difference to the police or fire commissions since they only meet once a month, he said.

“There’s really no onus on us if we give people a little extra time,” Ford said.

The new ordinance will be similar to other ordinances throughout the state, according to Ford.

“The intention is uniformity from town to town,” he said.

While the old ordinance focused on actions the new ordinance focuses on people, he said.

In the old ordinance, for a given action, it says person A needs to do this, person B needs to do that. In the new ordinance, outlines the responsibilities of the municipality, police department, alarm company, and the alarm user, according to Ford.

“It’s a little bit easier to follow,” he said.

Several members of the Board of Mayor and Burgesses commended Ford on his work as they unanimously moved to approve the ordinance Dec 28.