NBFAA opposes Las Vegas' non-response policy

Fire calls must now be verified by a person under a new policy adopted in Las vegas
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Friday, March 1, 2002

LAS VEGAS-The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association is opposing the Las Vegas Fire & Rescue Department's recent decision not to respond to fire or emergency calls without verification.

The new policy, which went into effect in February, means that fire and rescue crews will not respond to automatic alarms, such as panic pendants, or fires reported by a monitoring company unless a person on site has verified that a fire is in progress or there is an emergency. The city will still respond to sprinkler generated alarms.

NBFAA President Bart Didden said the policy causes problems for the industry.

"This change in policy will result in delayed fire department response to actual fire events," said Didden. "The alarm industry will also have great difficulty in complying with both state regulation and the new local modification."

The Las Vegas Fire & Rescue Department said the policy is necessary to combat a false alarm problem that is now impacting the fire and rescue department. The city's police department stopped responding to unverified burglar alarm calls several years ago.

"The alarm companies have been taking advantage of the fire department," claimed Timothy Szymanski, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue Department's fire public information officer. "They know the police department will not respond to burglar alarms so they're calling us telling us there's a fire."

Szymanski said it's against the law to report a fire or call for a city rescue unit when there is not an emergency. The city will now levy a fine against individuals and alarm companies alike, with fines ranging from $250 to $1,000.

David Johnson, government relations director for the NBFAA, noted that the fire and rescue department did not seek public input before implementing the new rule.

Szymanski said the city is not required to gather public input before implementing such a policy, but did make it public through the local media.

Officials from the NBFAA say they are waiting for Las Vegas officials to respond to the association's concerns before deciding their next step.