Friday, February 20, 2009

To Correct an Error of Fact

I offer my sincerest apologies for the misinformation noted below in the post entitled Courting Disaster.

On February 16, 2009 I wrote a post about the false alarms that are driving us a tad crazy at 2100 Russell Road. One of my big complaints was the about the fine. I said $80.00. I based that on a letter I had received from the Police. I misinterpreted the information in the letter. Mr. Adami from The Citizen wrote me and pointed out that pulling false alarms is covered by the Criminal Code of Canada and, if caught, the culprit gets a good deal more than an $80.00 fine.

So I did what I should have done in the first place. I researched it. and Mr. Adami is so right!
Pulling a false alarm is considered Mischief under the Criminal Code. Mischief is addressed in Section 430.

Specifically, false fire alarms is addressed under Section 437 and is copied here:


Other Interference with Property

False alarm of fire

437. Every one who wilfully, without reasonable cause, by outcry, ringing bells, using a fire alarm, telephone or telegraph, or in any other manner, makes or circulates or causes to be made or circulated an alarm of fire is guilty of

(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or

(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

R.S., c. C-34, s. 393; 1972, c. 13, s. 31.

So what is the difference between a summary and an indictable offence? Well it is a tad complicated but one of the things the Crown looks at among others is the type, the quantity and quality of the evidence. If one person has evidence and shares it, that's good. If 20 people have evidence and share it - that's better. If you see the back of the culprit, that has some value. If you catch him pulling the alarm on your Blackberry, that's better. And there are so many possible "ifs" that the Crown has to look at in deciding which way to go. But the police have to catch the guy or gal in the first place.

Unfortunately, we have all watched TV shows, both fiction and true stories, where the bad guy gets away because people were afraid to come forward when they knew something. The trouble with that is that if a bad guy gets away with something once, he will do it again, and again and again. Maybe the last 20 false alarms here have been pulled by 20 different guys but I don't think so. If we really have 20 sickos in the building who pull false fire alarms, then, man oh man! are we ever in trouble in this building!

If you know something and don't tell the police or the firemen who respond, then you are making it easier for this dude to pull that alarm again. Right now, when that fire alarm goes off, no one moves. Why should we? It's just that jerk playing games again. Right? What if there is a real fire and none of us move? If we, you and me, are nothing but a hunk of char, it's a wee bit too late for us, isn't it? Or what if the Fire Department is busy checking out our false alarm instead of racing off to a real fire? The difference between living through a fire and dying in one can be just a few minutes - the few minutes they are here instead of there. I guess the questions we all have to ask ourselves is,

  1. if we know something are we brave enough to report it?
  2. If we don't and someone dies in a real fire somewhere else because the Fire Department were here instead of there, could we sleep well knowing we could have prevented it?
  3. If you cannot work up any empathy for others, from a purely selfish point of view, are you not sick of hearing that darned alarm going off all the time?

My answers:

  1. I am pretty sure I am brave enough;
  2. I would never get a decent night's sleep and
  3. I am really and truly fed up with alarms going off all the time.

The description of 'Mischief' is covered by The Criminal Code of Canada, Section 430.

A description of a Summary and an Indictable offence can be read at one of these sites.


The bottom line - let's get this dude out of circulation!

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