07/07/2015 07:19 EDT | Updated 07/07/2016 05:59 EDT

False fire alarms should be fined, says fire department

Vancouver's fire department is proposing a hefty fine for false fire alarms in the hopes that it will decrease the strain on city resources. 

Fire crews are called out to roughly 7,000 false alarms every year, according to a report presented by Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service Chief John McKearney.  

​"This is considered to be an unnecessary use of resources," he said during a city council meeting on Tuesday. 

The fire department is recommending the city issue a $200 fine to a building that trigger a false alarm more than twice. The building residents would be warned about the fine after two false alarms. 

The report presented to council stated that the fire department responded to 1,300 calls last year in buildings that had already set off a false alarm twice.

"In many cases the fire alarm was found to be activated during testing or a mechanical failure or malfunction of the equipment," said McKearney. "Sometimes it's user error."

McKearney told council that the number of false alarms is expected to increase because of the city's new building bylaw, which requires "more buildings than ever" to have fire alarms that automatically notify the city's fire department.

City councilors unanimously approved to refer the matter to public hearing on Wednesday.

Fines in other cities

Other municipalities in Metro Vancouver already have similar fines in place, with variations on the amount of the fine and the number of false alarms required to trigger it.

Burnaby: $100 to $300 fine after three false alarms.

Coquitlam: ​$150 to $300 fine after two false alarms.

North Vancouver: $130 fine after one false alarm.

Richmond: $222 to $332 fine after one false alarm.

Surrey: $114 fine for any false alarm.