Lone Star State bill seeks to regulate alarm panels

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

AUSTIN, Texas--Texas lawmakers are mapping out a bill that would regulate the type of panels used in future security system installations and impact non-response ordinances for municipalities to combat false alarms. This is one of the first state legislations in the country that would mandate this.
House Bill 2304 proposes panels used in security system installations after January 2007 must be American National Standards Institute and Security Industry Association CP-01 and UL-compliant. CP-01 is a standard that implements redesigned control panels that are preprogrammed to extend the time for entry and exit delay.
Already, some countrywide municipalities have incorporated a CP-01 ordinance, such as Lee County in Florida, to reduce false alarms.
The standard makes all alarm panels pre-programmed with features and settings that were determined to reduce invalid alarms by default, said Stan Martin, executive director of Security Industry Alarm Coalition. A handful of alarm panel companies have already had control panels ANSI SIA CP-01 UL-listed, while other manufacturers are next in line to do the same, noted Martin.
Another component of the bill impacts non-response ordinances. A municipality may require an alarm systems' central station to attempt to contact the owner of the system twice before a jurisdiction responds to the alarm signal. However, before a non-response ordinance is adopted by a municipality, jurisdictions will notify permit holders and conduct a hearing to discuss the proposed change.
The state industry members involved in the legislative process orchestrated changes from the original bill to the current bill, noted Chip Bird, president of the Texas Burglar and Fire Alarm Association.
"Our concern was that jurisdictions would attempt to do it (adopt non-response) without notifying the alarm users," Bird said.
If a municipality does choose a non-response ordinance, then they cannot solicit or impose a false alarm fee, Bird noted.
However, if a municipality does not go the non-response route, then fees for commercial and residential false alarms will be implemented. A proposed fee structure could be: $50 if the location has more than three false alarms, $75 for eight false alarms and any subsequent false alarm would be charged with a $100 fine in a year.
Alarm companies will employ standards to use when working with customers thanks to the proposed legislation. For example, after an installation of an alarm system, the company will provide the user with the false alarm law of that jurisdiction. The company will share with the customer how to operate the alarm system and prevent false alarms. It will notify the municipality that the alarm system is installed and provide the address and name of the occupant of the alarm system.
The elements of the Texas bill will help to decrease false alarms, noted Bird.
"The bottom line is that cities can recoup money that they are spending on false alarms and encourage more police responses," Bird said.
The bill is now on the Senate floor for discussion after Security Systems News went to press. The legislation session ends in May; it would pass then, if it passes, said Bird.