Delaware institutes false fire alarm law

The law standardizes rules for alarm companies across the state
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Sunday, February 1, 2004

DOVER, Del. - Beginning this year, fire alarm systems here are subject to new rules that state officials hope will trim false fire alarms in the state.

Signed into law in late April 2003, the law will require alarm owners in the state to pay a fine of $100 if their fire alarm system has more than three false alarms in a year. The law is the first that encompasses the same false alarm requirements and fine schedule consistently across the state, said Tony Abbate, president of the Delaware Alarm Association.

“Dover has had a similar ordinance to (the state one) for 15 or so years,” Abbate said. “So in that aspect, we know it has been working.”

The new law will now require new actions of alarm companies in the state. Now, after a false alarm at a residence, the smoke detector must be cleaned and checked, whereas that requirement previously only applied to a commercial system, Abbate said. And if a central station fails to first notify dispatch authorities their intent to test a system, big fines, up to $500 for the third and subsequent offense, will be instituted.

Also for the first time, alarm companies are required to maintain a list of three contact names that would be able to respond to a location within 30 minutes in the event of a fire alarm, including accurate directions, to the fire department. As with many beach homes on Delaware’s southern coast, if that proves difficult, the owners must provide fire officials with a lockbox to enter the building.

Money from fines will be given to the Fire Detection Fund, which provides hardwired smoke detectors to the elderly and disabled.