False alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Grand Prairie, Texas

To combat false alarms and the drain on police, police officials here have proposed that they no longer respond to alarms unless a valid permit is on file with the city.

Under the proposal, alarm owners would pay a $25 annual permit fee, which is anticipated to generate $405,000 a year.

The proposal comes after the city recorded 13,176 alarm calls last year, of which 12,607 were false, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News.

Though police are in favor of the idea, some city councilors are against the proposal. One councilor cited there should be no difference to responding to a burglar alarm call from a central station than to a 911 call.

The city has 21,000 alarm permits on file, but 5,000 are expected to have outdated names, telephone numbers and other contact information.

The city’s police chief plans to present the proposal to the finance committee this month, but a date has yet to be set for full council consideration.

Meadville, Pa.

In May the city implemented a new policy that charges residents and companies for multiple false fire alarms, according to newspaper reports.

Under the new ordinance, Meadville will charge a $50 fine for the fourth or fifth false fire alarm in a year. The fine doubles for additional false alarms.

While the city’s fire department received 119 false alarms last year, almost half came from three property owners. Fifty-three alarms were attributed to Meadville Medical Center, Meadville Housing Authority and Wesbury Properties.

Rio Rancho, N.M.

A false alarm ordinance is before the city council to charge alarm owners a fine after three false alarms.

In May the city council approved the second reading of the ordinance, but it must pass a third reading before it become law.

According to a report in the Albuquerque Journal, alarm owners in Rio Rancho would pay a $10 annual permit fee under the proposal.

Alarm owners would also supply police with contact information and the address of where the alarm is located.

If approved, the city would charge a $25 fine after the third false alarm and impose a $40 fee after the sixth. If passed, a full-time clerk would be assigned to track false alarms in the city.

Salem, Ore.

Residents here are protesting a proposed false alarm ordinance that would end police response to unverified alarms.

The proposal, expected to come under task force review, would allow police to stop responding to alarms unless they are verified. Police would still respond to panic alarms.

According to a report in the Statesman Journal, police officials here claim responding to false alarms is a drain on police resources and that residents would get better service if the alarm companies dispatch their own security officers. Police also say the policy would allow it to stop charging users fees, since those fees are designed to reimburse the city for time spent investigating alarms.