Clackamas Fire District # 1 has an adopted ordinance related for false alarms, Ordinance 09-01. Per this ordinance, cost recovery fees may be imposed for responses to repetitive false (nuisance) responses to fire and medical alarms. No cost recovery fee shall be imposed for the initial four (4) fire alarm or medical responses to any residential or commercial occupancy during a calendar year. No cost recovery fee shall be charged if the fire alarm is a result of a fire. No cost recovery fee shall be charged if the medical alarm results in medical treatment by EMS personnel. Canceled en-route incidents are considered a billable event since the apparatus was deployed and thus an incident report must be generated. Fees will be based upon the reasonable estimate of the actual average cost of a fire alarm response.
The Fire District will assess fees for subsequent nuisance automatic fire and medical alarm responses. The fee shall be $125.00 minimum which includes the first 30 minutes of apparatus and staff time. Responses requiring multiple units and/or lasting longer than 30 minutes may be billed using established hourly rates for all apparatus and staff committed.
OREGON REVISED STATUE 478.410 authorizes the fire district to establish fees for provided services. The fire district uses service cost recovery fees as a financial disincentive to encourage individuals and business owners to correct alarm equipment issues in a timely manner and limit the unnecessary impact on fire district response resources.
Clackamas Fire District #1 emergency response personnel are dispatched to more than 150 false alarm calls a month. The cause of many of these false alarms is poorly designed or maintained fire or medical alarm systems. Warning Letters are generally sent out as an educational tool once two or more false alarms have occurred in a calendar year at the same address.
The Fire District enacted a local ordinance to serve as a financial incentive so that business and residential owners properly maintain their alarm systems. Reducing false alarms also reduces community risk. Once a crew is dispatched to a fire alarm, they are generally unavailable for other life threatening or higher priority responses; every responses puts our personnel and the public at risk.
The Fire District will assess fees for subsequent nuisance automatic fire and medical alarm responses after the first three per calendar year per address. The fee shall be $125.00 minimum which includes the first 30 minutes of apparatus and staff time. Responses requiring multiple units and/or lasting longer than 30 minutes may be billed using established hourly rates for all apparatus and staff committed.
Beginning on January 1st each year, Clackamas Fire District #1 tracks false alarm responses by business or residential address. Warning letters are generally sent prior to an invoice and the date of warning letter mailing is available. Beginning on the fourth false alarm response in a calendar year, responses are eligible for invoicing. Prior to invoicing, alarm responses are reviewed to confirm the alarm was not a real fire. Smoke from cooking or a toaster is not a real fire. Responses are counted toward the annual total if emergency response crews begin a response to your location as every response requires staff time to complete a report.
There are three general exceptions to invoicing for false alarms.
- If your business has a current building permit for major construction project(s) at this location as we understand that during demolition and construction things happen that can activate an alarm system accidentally. Since we are involved in the plans review and inspection process of these projects, our staff generally knows of these permitted projects.
- If your alarm company is performing an alarm system upgrade, not routine maintenance and testing of your alarm system, we will not invoice for any responses during the specific hours of this work.
- If the fire alarm activation is a result of a fire. Our fire report will have documents that fire personnel extinguished, investigated, or completed smoke removal on your fire. Regular cooking and smoke from burnt toast is not considered a fire but an alarm system engineering or installation problem, especially if it occurs with any frequency.
All other false alarm responses qualify for invoicing.
What can you do if you think you have been billed for a response that meets an above described exception?
Contact accounts payable at 503-742-2600 and provide documentation of a building permit, alarm upgrade invoice, or insurance claim for a fire loss on this date.
Information is available at ClackamasFire.com
Step 1 – Contact Accounts payable at 503 742 2600.
Step 2 – Contact the Fire Marshal at 503 742 2660.
Step 3 – Appeal the invoice in writing, providing documentation. Mail this to:
Clackamas Fire District #1 Fire Marshal
2930 SE Oak Grove Blvd
Milwaukie, OR 97267
Written appeals will be reviewed by the Fire Marshal. Decisions of the Fire Marshal will be final. Delinquent invoices will be processed to collections as deemed appropriate by the Fire Marshal. All costs related to collection procedures shall be added to Fire District invoiced fees when collection services are required.
The adopted Oregon Fire Code and Oregon Revised Statues require businesses to maintain their buildings under the requirements in place at the time it was built or the requirements of the latest construction permit. Disabling a required fire alarm from monitoring service, if it is required, is a violation of the Oregon Fire Code and may also be a crime.
The fire code requires annual inspection and testing of alarm systems in commercial buildings when fire alarm systems are required. Older equipment may be more susceptible to false alarms especially if not properly maintained or updated. Maintain your equipment and work with your alarm company to reduce false alarms by correcting equipment or behavioral issues that cause false alarms. Removing or relocating a toaster is a simple fix.
Engineering solutions may include relocating equipment, changing equipment, more frequent testing and/or cleaning, and regular system upgrades as technology improves. Changes to required alarm systems require permits to ensure compliance with local fire and building codes. Please work with your alarm professional to identify solutions that work for you.