False alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Sunday, June 1, 2003

Plaistow, N.H.

A change to the town codes here is expected to reduce the false fire alarm rate, according to reports in The Union Leader of Manchester, N.H.

The code revision calls for a verbal warning after the second false alarm, a written warning following the third and a $100 charge for the fourth. The fifth false alarm receives the $100 charge plus the cost of the responding fire department personnel and apparatus. Six or more false alarms will cost a property owner $200, plus manpower and equipment costs.

Fire Chief John McArdle reported fire alarm activations represent 15 percent of yearly service calls and an estimated 95 percent are false alarms.

Omaha, Neb.

A proposed ordinance under discussion here would set fees for false alarms, reported The Omaha World-Herald.

According to the proposal before the City Council, the first false alarm would be free, but the second would cost home-owners $100 and the third, $250. Fire alarms wouldn’t be counted. The report said false alarms are the third- and fourth-highest category of calls the police field.

Under the proposal, appeals by homeowners would be reviewed by the city attorney, the same as with parking tickets.

Albuquerque, N.M.

The City Council here adop-ted in February revisions to the city’s burglar alarm ordinance, according to a report in the Albuquerque Journal.

The city has had an ordinance in place since the late 1990s. Under that rule, alarm owners were required to pay $10 for a permit, the report said. It also stipulated that a permit would be suspended after the sixth false alarm in one year and police wouldn’t be required to respond to an alarm if the system didn’t have a permit.

Citing problems with the existing structure, including problems with tracking and billing for false alarms, the Journal reported City Councilor Sally Mayer proposed raising the permit fee to $25, with the funds dedicated to ordinance enforcement.

The changes also called for fees of $150 if police were repeatedly summoned because of false alarms, but the newspaper said Mayer included a provision that allowed avoidance of the fee if the alarm user fixed the problem.

Lloydminster, Alberta

The City Council here is looking at establishing a licensing and fine system for owners of alarms that cause false alarms to both the police and firefighters, according to a report in The Lloydminster Meridian Booster.

According to data supplied by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, there had been 90 false alarms through February, and 700 false alarms in 2002, the newspaper report said.

Before passing any bylaws related to the false alarm issue, the report said the council was considering researching the problem to see if one group of businesses or residences was responsible for the bulk of the calls, and the city would keep more detailed records of alarms.