False alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Saturday, December 1, 2007

Isle of Wight, Va.
Isle of Wight county officials approved a false alarm ordinance on Oct. 18 with a fine structure dependent on which authorities respond to the alarm, the Newport News Daily Press reported. Under the ordinance, after the third false alarm within a 90-day period, residential owners are subjected to a $100 fine if firefighters or rescue workers respond to the alarm, or $50 if sheriff's deputies respond. Fines would increase to $250 for the fourth false alarm, $500 for the fifth that firefighters or rescue workers respond to, or $75 for the fourth and $150 for the fifth that are responded to by deputies. Commercial alarm owners would be subject to the same fines, but within a 180-day period and are required to train their employees about how to use the alarm. "The basis for this ordinance is not to be a money-maker," said Tom Ivy Board of Supervisors and acting president of the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department. "The fine doesn't even cover the cost of the response. Every time you fire up one of those fire engines, it's hundreds of dollars in gas, wear and tear, and resources."

Reno, Nev.
The city of Reno approved a stricter false alarm ordinance at an Oct. 10 City Council meeting, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported. The new version of the ordinance, which will take effect Feb. 1, will require security alarm customers to apply for a permit for their alarm systems as well as pay a $75 fine for every false alarm, without any free false alarms. Police will stop responding after three false alarms until the owner can prove the problem has been fixed. Under the previous ordinance, owners were allowed three false alarms before facing a fine of $94.66, and police stopped responding after six false alarms. False robbery and panic alarm calls will carry a $200 fee for every false alarm and there will be no cut-off in police response. The ordinance also requires alarm companies to adopt a two-call verification policy and submit customer lists to the police department. In addition, alarm companies must also pay $100 to be licensed.

Rocky Mount, N.C.
City officials here proposed a false alarm policy at an Oct. 18 meeting that would require alarm customers to register their alarm systems every year as opposed to every three years, according to the Rocky Mount Telegram. The proposed ordinance also states that security system customers will not pay a fine for the first two false alarms, but will be penalized starting on the third violation. Customers with 10 or more false alarms could be fined $500 and, if those false alarms are within a 12-month period, could face a suspension in police response.
Escambia County, Fla.
Because of an increasing number of false alarms in this area, county commissioners may increase fines that could possibly double the current false alarm fee structure, reported the Pensacola News Journal. The original ordinance was enacted in 1992 with charges of $50 for each false alarm after the third in a calendar year. The new ordinance proposes to charge violators after the second false alarm. County commissioners voted 4-1 to pass the new proposal and were scheduled to take a final vote in November to establish the fee structure.