Rewriting false alarm ordinance in Albemarle County

SSN Staff  - 
Monday, June 20, 2011

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va.—A June 15 story from NBC 29 reports Albemarle County wants to clamp down on homes and businesses with malfunctioning alarm systems. The county's police and fire departments are digging into the existing false alarm ordinance and looking at ways to put more bite behind it.

The ordinance currently allows police and fire departments to charge a $100 fine after responding to three false alarms. But the fire department hasn't written a single one of those tickets and the county's police chief says it's rarely enforced because of staffing cuts.

Both departments are working together to rewrite the false alarm ordinance. They're looking at an education campaign to make sure homeowners and commercial properties maintain their alarm systems.

The revisions could also include an escalating scale of fines and require alarm registration with the county. Last year, fire and rescue crews handled 600 false alarms.

Police officers have responded to 2,000 false alarms. Each alarm call takes two officers off the streets for an average of 30 minutes.

Staff members are working on the ordinance revisions. It will likely go before county supervisors later this summer.