Grand Strand

Horry County plagued by false alarms; new position aims to cut down on problem

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) - Horry County first responders are being plagued with false alarm calls, and it's a problem when they could be responding to real emergencies. 

The county looks to cut down on the number of false calls by hiring a "false alarm manager."

Each time crews respond to a false alarm, not only does that put a burden on responders, it also falls on you by wasting tax dollars.

Essentially a false alarm, according to a county ordinance, is an alarm that's not caused by an actual emergency. This could be malfunctions, defective devices or negligence of the alarm user, whether intended or not. 

In 2017 Horry County responded to just over 5,000 fire and police false alarm calls. That's 5,000 times their time and resources could have been better used. 

In the first four months of 2018 crews have responded to 1,000 false alarms. 

"The sheer number of them now, it can create issues with response times," said HCPD Capt. John Harrelson. "So if we can reduce that, then in-turn, the good Lord willing, it will reduce the response times."

Though the county didn't cite the cost associated with responding to the alarms, Harrelson said it accounts for a lot of man hours.

"We do invest quite a lot of time," he said. "Our patrol officers' time."

Which could mean crews are taking longer to get to real emergencies.

The county's solution is the false alarm reduction manager, who will be in charge of educating the public and working with routine offenders. 

The goal of the position is to make sure people are aware of county rules and regulations. "They'll ensure that folks are being properly notified that they are in violation," Harrelson said, "And that they need to address it and get it fixed."

The county approved funds for the new position, but Harrelson said it's still very early in the process to know the specific job outline and who the county looks to hire. 

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