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False calls cost taxpayers money

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Albany/HV: False calls cost taxpayers money
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False calls have been alarming the Schenectady Fire Department. With taxpayers footing the bill for situations that may not be an emergency, our Karen Tararache found out what needs to be done to bring an end to the false calls.

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- If you've ever heard the recording "If this is an emergency please hang up and dial 911," did you ever wonder what would happen if you dialed and it wasn't?

Deputy Chief, David Orr told YNN, "Our protocol is we treat every call as the potential for an actual incident or emergency situation."

So when first responders arrive at a scene with no serious threat, Chief Michael DellaRocca explained, "False calls do take resources away from real emergencies and it happens fairly frequently."

So often in fact that the Schenectady Fire Department answers over 2,000 false alarms a year. Deputy Chief Orr recalled a situation when he, two fire engines, and a truck were sent out to a street box.

"It was simply for a woman that did not have a phone and she was calling for help because her husband had a toothache," he said.

While false calls remain a very serious and costly issue, how do you get people to stop making them?

"One of the things we can do and are doing is public education," Chief DellaRocca stated.

Teaching not only children in schools that it's not okay to pull the fire alarm but adults as well. A typical false call can run up to $500.

Mayor Gary McCarthy added, "Anytime we can reduce that operating cost, it has less burden on the taxpayer so to roll an engine company or to roll a truck company it's very expensive."

That means making sure your smoke detectors are properly maintained and not dialing 911 unless it's a real emergency.

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