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You Ask...Patch Answers: False Alarms Cost

Submit your questions to us and we'll answer them.

We’re all a little curious.

Driving through town one morning, you may wonder if that vacant building you pass will ever be occupied, why there’s no stoplight at a certain busy intersection, how long it takes to complete a road project or one of a million other questions about your town.

That’s where Patch comes in. With our feature, “You Ask ... Patch Answers,” we will strive to find the answer to all your questions—big, small and in-between—about the town we live and work in. Whether it’s something you’ve always wondered about, some information you just can’t put your hands on or a sudden curiosity, we want to hear it.

Send your queries to Jennifer.Lucarelli@patch.com or leave them in the comments section below, and I will do my best to dig up an answer for you. You also can call me at 508-330-7763.

This week, a Shrewsbury Patch reader asked if the town gets reimbursed when false alarms are reported to the police and fire departments.

answered the question. "Yes (and No), we may fine businesses for excessive false alarms per town by-laws," he said. "It does not happen very often because most businesses in town make a good faith effort to correct alarm problems as soon as possible."

The reader also asked, "Why are we, as a town, one of the few non volunteer units around? Would it make sense to switch?"

The chief said:

We are classified as a ‘Combination Fire Department’ with means we are both on-call (or volunteer) and career combined. Most of the towns around us are Combination Departments as well (Boylston, Northborough, Westborough, Hudson, Clinton, Southborough and Holden). Worcester, Marlborough, Framingham, Natick are career only—no volunteers. Grafton and Millbury are volunteer departments. The great majority of towns our size in Massachusetts are combination departments or career departments—not volunteer. We are the largest town in Worcester County—with a population above 35,000 people (larger than Natick, slightly smaller than Marlboro).

It would be a downgrade in service to the town to switch to a volunteer department. There would be an increase in property damage due to fire and many emergency medical calls could potentially have poor outcomes. Becoming a volunteer department would save some money, but it would not save lives or property.

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Ron king April 13, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Thank you Jennifer!! Seems to be a missed revenue source here! I hear so very many false alarms on the scanner.....if these people and businesses want an alarm.....pay for the false set offs!! Birds, pets, human error.

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