IN-DEPTH: False alarm calls affecting first responders, community

Posted at 9:00 PM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-13 22:34:16-05

WACO, TX — False alarm calls are huge problems across many departments that ultimately affect you. These calls take time and resources away from people who are in danger.

When it comes to an emergency, time is precious. This leaves the community with the question, how does this affect our local departments, and is this a bigger problem?

When a call comes in, Waco Fire said they are en route in no more than 80 seconds. It's all about speed. They strap in and suit up as quickly as possible. But when lines are flooded with false alarm calls, that's when problems happen.

Keith Guillory with Waco Fire said if multiple calls come in resources are spread, and getting to everyone in "6 minutes or less" on average might not happen.

"It's dangerous and unlawful to have a false call," Guillory said. "From one part of the city to another part of the city where those resources may be needed. For car wrecks, pregnancy, all different emergency things, to those locations to go to a false call."

Sergeant Peter Mottley with the Waco Police Department said these calls also impact his officers.

"If you are sending officers to a bugler, call you might have more to send to another call," Mottley said.

Motley said the City of Waco has a plan to combat nuisance calls. There is a consequence. According to the Order from the City of Waco, after a fifth false alarm call for the year individuals can receive $50 per offense.

The Waco Police said the reason there is a fine is because of staffing and overtime. If a call does come in, the department might need to call in more officers, meaning more over time and taxpayers make up for that cost.