False alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Calgary, Alberta

False alarms to the Calgary Police Service are continuing to drop, thanks to a fine introduced four years ago, but security companies are complaining the amount of the fine is too high.

According to a report in the Calgary Herald, since a $75 fine for a false alarm was established in 1999, the number of false burglar alarms reported to police has dropped 45 per cent.

The report said the Canadian Alarm and Security Association questions the justification for the $75 fine.

Last year, police recorded 10,853 false alarms, generating over $750,000 in revenue. Only three per cent of calls are valid, or just over one a day, according to the report.

Duluth, Minn.
The Duluth police are looking for a way for the department to more efficiently deal with about 2,000 false burglary alarms each year.

According to published reports, Duluth police are in the process of drafting a proposed ordinance to place more responsibility on the alarm owner. The proposal may require people to pay an annual fee to register their alarms. There could also be an undetermined penalty for those with repeated false alarms.

Under the current system, Duluth police send out about 100 warning letters a month to businesses and residences that experience a false alarm. If three false alarms occur within a six-month period, another warning letter is sent, placing the violator on probationary status for 90 days.

Kettering, Ohio

The cost from the high number of false alarms from home and business security systems has led Kettering officials to toughen its false alarm ordinance and enact penalties for those who don’t pay fees, according to a report in the Dayton Daily News.

Three false alarms in six months will cost the alarm user $100; four or more during a six-month period will cost $200. The ordinance, enacted at the start of the year, allows the city to disconnect alarms or revoke permits for those who do not pay up.

Failure to pay the fines can also result in criminal prosecution and referral to the county auditor for collection of unpaid fees.

Kettering police responded to 1,631 false alarms in 2001, and 1,500 in 2002. According to police, the false alarms come equally from businesses and residences, and each call can take anywhere from five to 30 minutes.

Roanoke, Va.

In an effort to curb the large number of false alarm calls in the area, the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors recently established fines for repeated false alarms.

According to a report in the Roanoke Times & World News, fire, rescue and sheriff’s deputies respond to an average of three false alarm calls a day.

Under the new ordinance, scheduled to go into effect April 1, a homeowner would be fined $25 after a fourth false alarm in one year, $50 after the fifth and another $50 for every subsequent false alarm.

Commercial businesses would be fined $25 for the fourth false alarm and an additional $75 if fire and rescue crews respond as well.

Industrial businesses would be fined $100 on the third false alarm, increasing $100 for every false alarm thereafter. County officials said the higher fines apply for those businesses because large amounts of personnel and equipment typically respond to industrial emergencies.