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Fire False Alarm

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are responses to frequently asked questions regarding the new fire false alarm program.

 

What is the purpose of the fire false alarm program?

The purpose of the fire false alarm program is to reduce the number of non-emergent Fire Department responses that are caused by construction-related activities as well as improper maintenance, malfunction, negligence or misuse of a fire alarm system.

 

Due to rising call volumes and financial limitations, the Fire Department can no longer solely absorb the work and expense of responding to preventable and non-emergent incidents. The penalties charged to contractors, homeowners, building owners and/or business owners will help share in the total expense of these non-emergent responses.   

 

When did the program take effect?

Ordinance No. 28549, passed by City Council in November 2018, added a new section 3.06.005 to the Tacoma Municipal Code, "Fire False Alarms," effective January 1, 2019, in the City of Tacoma and March 1, 2019, in the City of Fircrest (Resolution No. 40237) and the City of Fife/Pierce County Fire District 10 (Resolution No. 40238).

 

The penalty charge for each response determined to be a false alarm is $150 for a single-family home or duplex building and $250 for a commercial/industrial building.

       
What is a false alarm?

A false alarm is defined as a transmission of a fire alarm to the Fire Department deemed preventable and/or non-emergent. The following table highlights the false alarms that may result in a penalty charge.  

 

Alarm Activation

Penalty
Charge

No Charge

Fire, explosion, smoke or emergency condition.

 

X

Preventable malfunction (short-circuit, wiring, alarm panel failure, battery failure etc.).

X

Improper installation, inspection, testing, maintenance of the alarm system.

X

Malicious manual activation or unlawful tampering.

 

X

Construction, repair or maintenance related activity (painting, welding, cleaning, dust production, etc.).

X

 

Erroneous alarm transmission by alarm monitoring company including trouble signals.

X

Fire drills or routine system tests when reasonable steps are not taken to prevent alarm transmission.

X

Cooking activities (burnt food) deemed accidental and not recurrent.

X

Cooking activities (burnt food) deemed preventable and/or recurrent.

X

 

Malfunction or interruption of water service by water utility (e.g. water pressure fluctuation/surge/hammer).

 X

Smoking or vaping activity deemed accidental and not recurrent.

  X

Smoking or vaping activity deemed preventable and/or recurrent.

 X

Natural disaster, hazard or extreme weather event (earthquake, lighting, high winds, etc.).

X

Malfunction or interruption of power service by the electric utility.

X

Malfunction or interruption of communication service by telephone or internet provider.

X

Accidental damage or breakage to the system.

X

All other conditions deemed as preventable non-emergency events. (no fire, no smoke)

X

How do I pay my penalty charge?

To pay the penalty charge shown on your invoice, either remit a check to City Treasurer – P.O. Box 11367, Tacoma, WA 98411-0367, or call (253) 591-5751 between 8 AM and 4 PM to pay with a debit or credit card.    

 

Who do I contact for assistance?

Please contact the Deputy Fire Marshal Vern Porter at (253) 591-5740 or email vporter@cityoftacoma.org