False alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Sunday, December 1, 2002

Botetourt County, Va.

County officials are embarking on a public awareness campaign to lessen the number of false alarms.

Plans could call for an alarm ordinance that would penalize repeat alarm offenders with fines, according to a report in the Roanoke Times & World News, if the public awareness campaign is ineffective.

In 11 months, the county responded to 840 false burglar alarm calls and 92 false fire alarm calls. County officials plan to look at false alarm numbers in six to eight months to gauge whether the public awareness campaign has helped curb false alarms before imposing fines.

Lee County, Fla.

Beginning Jan. 1, sheriff deputies will no longer respond to every burglar alarm.

New rules allow deputies to check what set off an alarm only if a key holder or security company representative meet deputies at the site of the alarm.

According to a report in The News-Press, deputies responded to 35,485 alarm calls in 2001, an average of 97 calls a day.

Rockwell, Texas

An ordinance approved here in October will charge false alarm offenders $50 for their fourth false burglar alarm, with fines increasing with each additional false alarm.

City officials say the measure was needed because false alarms are taking up too much time. The Rockwell Fire Department reported 73 fire alarm calls this year, with 64 of them false, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News.

The ordinance imposes a $50 fine for homeowners for their fourth and subsequent false alarms in a year. Fines for businesses start at $50 and increase to $2,000 for the 10 false alarm.

False fire alarms at homes will warrant a $100 fine, which increases to $2,000 by the 12th false call. Business fines begin at $500 and rise to $2,000 for the seventh false alarm in a year.

Seattle, Wash.

The city council is considering a $75 annual registration fee for owners of burglar alarms to offset budget cuts proposed by the city's mayor.

Officials say the new fee could raise $3 million a year if all 40,000 alarms in the city register, according to a report in The Seattle Times.

Additional details on the alarm fee have yet to be worked out, but so far three city council members support the idea.

Officials say money raised through the alarm registration fee could save police department community-service officer jobs, which under the proposed budget would be eliminated.

Seattle's $635 million general budget for 2003 includes $60 million in proposed cuts.