Edgartown to begin issuing fire alarm fines

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At Monday's meeting, selectmen approved the wording for a plaque to be placed atop Memorial Wharf in Edgartown, which will honor the story of Esther. — Screenshot

Due to a large number of false fire alarm calls, Edgartown may begin issuing fines.

“It’s not just a false fire alarm here or there; several locations are having multiple false fire alarms a day,” town administrator James Hagerty said.

Under the town’s bylaw, whoever owns a residence or building may not have more than two false fire alarms per year. False alarms caused by hurricanes, thunderstorms, or certain power outages are exempt.

First offenses can be fined $25 for a first offense, $50 for a second offense, and $100 for additional offenses. Letters will be sent out to alarm companies and repeat offenders. 

“We’re going to have to start enforcing this,” Hagerty said. “It’s becoming an issue. We’re spending a lot of time and resources going to repeated calls because there’s an issue with the alarm or an issue with the overall system.”

Selectman Michael Donaroma said it was time to begin enforcing the offenses, since they’ve been an issue for a long time.

In other business, Edgartown selectmen approved placing a plaque at Memorial Wharf honoring Esther, a woman who escaped from a slave ship in Edgartown Harbor in July 1743.

Last month, Edgartown Harbor was officially recognized as a site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, a branch of the National Parks Service.

Rosewater Market & Takeaway owner Christopher Celeste offered to pay for the plaque and its installation at the top of Memorial Wharf, so there would be no cost to the town.

The plaque will look similar to the plaque placed on the Federated Church in Edgartown, marking where abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass spoke in 1857.