Tulare County Fire Department to Charge for False Alarms

FRESNO, Calif. 480 of these nuisance calls were either rubbish fires or illegal Ag burns. And about 400 were false alarms. Others calls included bonfires and controlled burns.

When Tulare County Firefighters first came out to this property last week, they found a large and illegal Ag burn. Crews put the fire out, but found themselves coming back for the next four days.

Division Chief Joe Garcia, "The next day there was another fire and ultimately up to last Saturday. There was five consecutive fires there."

The repeated calls cost the department approximately $55 hundred. And now the landowner will be getting a bill.

Starting May 1st, the Tulare County Fire Department is charging people for fires it deems a nuisance or illegal.

These include unauthorized Ag burns, debris fires, and bon fires, cooking fires or any free burning fire outside of a building.

"It is a preventive tool because once you are advised and once you are aware you might think twice about doing this," said Chief Garcia.

In the 2008-2009 fiscal year ... the Tulare County Fire Department says it responded to nearly one-thousand "nuisance fires" ... a cost of over $100,000.

Officials say these careless fires are dangerous, a financial burden and consume emergency resources.

Firefighter, Jim smith said, "Due to their ground not being soil it actually extended out yesterday and moved its way out to out here all this debris which was all the pots and stuff we had to get."

This homeowner had a permit to burn his Ag debris, but didn't properly put the fire out. Firefighters say this carelessness caused the fire to spread.

It took firefighters several hours to put out the flames. The total cost for this recovery was more than $1,200.00.

These charges apply to people living in the county's jurisdiction. The fire department will first send out letters to the homeowner asking for payment. If no payment is received, civil charges will be filed.

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