Alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Monday, January 1, 2007


On Nov. 16, the Irving City Council approved a revision to its alarm ordinance, reported the North Texas Alarm Association. Effective Jan. 1, with a non-enforcement grace period running through Jan. 31, 2007, the new law aims to reduce the roughly 9,800 false alarms police respond to each year. Additionally, the city has contracted with ATB Services, a company managing alarm ordinances for cities and towns across the country. All security alarm owners under the age of 65 will have to register with the city, paying $50 annually for a permit. Senior citizens will pay $10 annually. Alarm companies will have to provide false-alarm literature to new clients and alert the city of installations within 30 days. Fees will be as follows: free for three false alarms in a calendar year; $50 fee for alarms four and five; $75 fine for alarms six and seven; $100 fine for false alarms eight and beyond. After 12 false alarms, a permit may be revoked.


The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette has done a study of the false alarm ordinance instituted here in 1997. It found that the $50 fines issued to homes and businesses with a third false alarm in a calendar year significantly reduced false alarms--from a total of 2,386 in 1998, the ordinance's first year, to just 582 in 2004. However, the number has begun to climb again, with 1,315 tickets issued in 2005 and the police department reporting that number will be met or exceeded again this year. It is unclear whether the increase is a result of a growing city, growing apathy toward the $50 fine, or a greater percentage of businesses using an alarm system. It's likely, of course, that it's a combination of all three.


The Stoney Creek News reported Hamilton police are renewing their call for residents to register their security alarm systems. The city has a long history with false alarm reduction, starting with a False Alarm Reduction Program in 1992, to deal with 16,000 annual false alarms, and in 1997 instituting a registration policy and fine structure. Currently, false alarms are $50 for residents who do not register their alarms, and start at $24 for homeowners who are registered. Commercial establishments start paying at $48, with fines escalating from there. The plan seems to be working: police responded to just 5,700 false alarms in 2005, though 92 percent of all alarms are false.