December 2007 - Posts

Montclair, NJ False Alarms Down 25% After Program Launch

Coming up on a year of implementation, the municipality’s false alarm tracking system has proved successful, according to Montclair Police Chief David Sabagh.

Sabagh told Township Council members that Montclair has seen “a 25 percent reduction in false alarms” in the 11 months since the municipal government started charging home- and business-owners for false alarms.

Data shows the new penalty system has done its job.

According to the chief, the Montclair Police Department responded in 2006 to 3,608 false alarms, compared to 2007’s 2,711 false alarm calls.

Sabagh reported that the reduction of 897 false alarm calls equates to more than 448 man-hours “where officers can be assigned to other law enforcement related matters such as directed patrol, radar enforcement, etc.”

According to the chief, more than 630 businesses and residents have been fined since the ordinance’s inception last year. Montclair has subsequently collected $280,791.17 in revenue through Oct. 31, 2007 in alarm registration and false alarm fees.

Sabagh reported that $55,562.08 in service fees have been paid to the billing company, generating a net income of $225,229.09, or approximately $15,000 per month.

The false alarm program is handled by Colorado-based ATB Services, an agency under contact with Montclair.

Property owners are not fined for their first false alarm of the year, but for the second they’re charged $50, for the third $100, and for four or more they are billed $200 each. The tally of false alarms at their properties does not accumulate from one year to the next.

Under the previous false alarm ordinance, which had neither been enforced nor examined since 1976, the penalties were substantially higher, peaking at $1,000, and violators could be put in prison. Council members said that such consequences were too severe and inconsistent with state standards.

Sabagh previously said that owners of properties that have alarms should occasionally call their security providers and ask for a technician to check that their systems are working correctly. The chief said that citizens need to make certain their alarms’ wiring meets municipal code, such as the connections and contacts are correctly functioning.

The registration fee for alarm systems is $50. Alarm users can register online at Registration must be renewed on an annual basis.

Newbury, NH, Ordinance Requires Permits for Central Station Fire and Security Alarms

The Newbury, New Hampshire Police and Fire Chiefs are authorized to issue a permit to any owner of property located within the town or the lessee thereof to maintain, install and modify a fire, burglary, holdup or intrusion alarm system upon application.

Dialer-type alarms that are operated by a prerecorded message machine are not authorized to be used at the police and fire departments. Alarms which monitor temperature, humidity and any other condition not directly related to the detection or notification of emergency personnel are specifically excluded from this chapter.

Applications for Security and Fire Alarm Permits and Central Station Company permits shall be submitted to the Newbury Police Department, 952 Route 103, Newbury, NH 03255. Application forms are available at the Police Department, Town Office and may be downloaded from the Town of Newbury Website 

Ordinance Overview
There shall be no fee for the alarm system installation permit issued by the police and fire departments. 

The first permit year shall be eleven (11) calendar months plus the remainder of the month in which the alarm permit was issued, and twelve (12) calendar months thereafter.

Any owner or lessee of property having an alarm system on the premises and any user of alarm services or equipment designed and installed with the intent of eliciting an emergency response shall pay to the town a service charge as set scheduled below.

Any central station, answering service or proprietary system that in any manner notifies the police or fire departments of an alarm signal from an alarm system of an alarm user who does not possess an alarm user's permit or whose permit has been suspended, revoked or denied shall be charged a penalty as listed below. Penalties, for each notification made to the town.

Penalties for violations of the Alarm Ordinance shall be as follows:
(1) Operating an alarm without a valid permit . . . $100.00
(2) Operating an alarm when a permit has been suspended or revoked . . . $100.00
(3) False alarm penalties: Security Alarms:
a. Fourth security alarm in a year. . $50.00
b. Fifth security alarm in a year . . …$75.00
c. Sixth and successive security alarms in a year . . . $100.00

(4) False alarm penalties Fire Alarms 
a. Any owner or lessee or person in control of property having an alarm system on the premises and any user of alarm services or equipment designed and installed with the intent of eliciting an emergency response shall pay to the town a service charge of $250.00 for each and every false alarm to which the fire department responds after the initial response within a seven-day period. It shall be the responsibility of the property owner to correct any and all problems resulting in the activation of false alarms.

b. Fourth false fire alarm in a year . . . $100.00
c. Fifth false fire alarm in a year. …. . $200.00
d. Sixth and successive false fire alarms in a year . . . $300.00
(5) Central Station, answering service or proprietary system notification of an alarm not possessing a valid permit . . . $100.00

Torrington, CT, OKs fees for excess fire alarms

Torrington, Connecticut, residents who are careless about triggering false alarms at their homes or businesses could be fined under a new ordinance approved by city leaders.

Starting Jan. 1, 2008, the city will charge insurance companies of property owners who call the fire department for more than one pump out per year or who trigger more than two false alarms. The fees are $100 for each pump out after the first call, and $350 for each response to a false alarm after the first two.

Fire Chief John Field said the charges are meant to deter property owners who makes such calls a habit.

Alarm firms balk at proposed Rancho Cordova permit requirements

Owners of area security alarm companies say measures intended to reduce Rancho Cordova Police responses to false alarms could jeopardize proprietary information and expose their customers to identity theft.

Finance Director Donna Silva said the city adopted Sacramento County's alarm ordinance upon incorporation. When the county amended its ordinance in September and mistakenly sent out alarm permit renewal notices to Rancho Cordova residents and businesses, city staff members reviewed the changes and recommended adopting some of them to reduce city costs for false-alarm responses.

The city currently charges $50 for the original alarm permit as well as fines for third and subsequent false alarms at a home or business. 

Staff members recommended retaining the current fee and fine schedule, and not imposing a $45 biennial permit renewal fee instituted by the county. But they did suggest following the county's lead in requiring alarm companies to make at least two calls to the location or responsible party before calling the Police Department about an activated alarm.

Reducing the number of false-alarm responses would reduce the city's costs and spare alarm system owners a fine.

But proposed measures also call for alarm companies to file a report with the Police Department every two years providing the name, birth date, driver's license number, address and telephone number of each alarm system subscriber they serve, as well as the name, address and telephone number of an emergency contact person. The report also would include the number, type and location of alarm systems at each site.

Rick Jordan of Baker Burglar & Fire Systems Inc. took issue with requiring alarm companies to turn over client lists, and he questioned the need for personal information about permit holders, such driver's license number and birth date.

"Basically, (the city) wants us to mail the application to them," Jordan said. "If personal information leaks out, who is liable for the leaks?"

Jordan said he also would like to know what types of situations were categorized as false alarms.

If a burglar fled upon opening the door and activating the alarm, that's not a false alarm. "That's the alarm doing its job," Jordan said.

Andy Anderson, owner of CPP Alarms and Video, said he has been in the industry since 1971 and serves on the board of the Sacramento Area Alarm Association. About 300 alarm companies operate in the Sacramento area, he said, and most are small operations, often with no more than two employees.

Each municipality has its own rules and regulations, making it difficult for small firms to keep track of them, he said.

Anderson said the industry does not object to the permit fees or fines, recognizing that someone has to bear the cost of false alarms.

But, he said, "If we lose five or 10 accounts because people won't give the (personal) information, we have a problem."

Police Chief Ruben Meeks said some of the information requested in the proposed ordinance reflected "old-school thinking."

With geographical information system data, the Police Department can identify homes and businesses by parcel number.

"There's no need to collect the extremely sensitive data," he said.

To ensure that the city is able to collect fines for false alarms, Mayor Linda Budge suggested a process similar to that used to collect from people who fail to pay for garbage service.

"If you have a parcel number and it isn't paid, you lien the property," she said.

Silva said allowances would have to be made for cases in which the alarm system is owned by a tenant rather than the property owner.

Council members said they also appreciated alarm companies' concerns about turning over proprietary information.

"Not many industries would be willing to hand over their client base," Budge said.

The council continued the matter to March 5, directing staff members to work with industry representatives to craft an ordinance that addresses their concerns as well as the city's financial issues.

As for Rancho Cordova residents and businesses that responded to the county notice requesting payment of a $45 permit renewal fee, Silva said refunds would be mailed in two to three weeks.

East Brunswick, NJ Considers Higher False Alarm Fees

Officials in East Brunswick Township, New Jersey, are considering an increase in fees for people whose burglary alarms repeatedly go off without justification. 

The fees would only be charged to those whose alarms go off more than four times in the course of a calendar year, Business Administrator James White said, though Councilman Donald Klemp later suggested a longer period of time. 

Although the township does collect money on fees meted out to chronic false alarms, the fees have not been raised since the 1980s. 

The item was up for discussion at the Dec. 10 council meeting, when White proposed the increased fees. While the township would forgive the first three false alarms, there would be a charge of $25 for each subsequent false alarm during that calendar year. 

Council President Nancy Pinkin said she does not think the fees go high enough. She wants residents and business owners to either turn their alarms off or face paying a higher fee. 

But White said he did not want the fees to go as high as those in nearby towns such as South Brunswick and Sayreville. 

Councilman David Stahl asked if businesses generate more false alarms than residences, adding that he would support having a higher fee imposed on businesses. White said it does take police longer to look make sure a business is safe. 

Township Attorney Michael Baker said that, if it were more costly to respond to false alarms from businesses, the township would have a rational basis, and thus be free from discrimination claims, for charging more in fees.

CDC: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Peaks in December and January

It has no color. It has no odor. It has no taste. It kills.

Every year, the CDC says, it sends at least 15,000 Americans to the emergency room.

At least 439 people die of unintentional, non-fire-related carbon monoxide poisoning every year, new CDC statistics show. But that's very likely an undercount.

Thirteen states require doctors to report carbon monoxide poisoning. Autopsies do not routinely test for it. And since the symptoms can be confused with many diseases – particularly among the elderly – coroners don't always suspect it.

The new CDC report shows that most accidental carbon monoxide poisonings happen in January, and the second most in December. The fewest are in the summer months of July and August.

From 1999 to 2004, Nebraska had the highest rate of carbon monoxide poisoning. California had the lowest rate.

The CDC report appears in the Dec. 21 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Stringent Maryland City Measure Aims to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Deaths

In Maryland, Laurel City Council ended its year Dec. 10 with unanimous approval of a series of measures dealing with public safety and upgrading the city’s fleet of vehicles.

The council voted that combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have to be installed in all residential units for which a building permit is issued after Jan. 1, 2008.

‘‘Carbon monoxide kills thousands of people per year, and this ordinance is a step forward to reducing that number,” Laurel Volunteer Fire Department Chief Richard Blankenship said, referring to a figure released by the Prince George’s County Fire Department.

The measure goes beyond the statewide law that will also go into effect on Jan. 1, which requires carbon monoxide detectors in the dwelling units of buildings with systems that run on fossil fuels.

Carbon monoxide is often referred to as a silent killer because it is odorless.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, people who succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning often think they initially have the flu due to bouts of headaches, nausea and fatigue. Prolonged exposure can lead to death.

Appliances running on natural gas, liquefied petroleum, oil, kerosene, coal or wood may produce the poisonous gas, according to the commission.

The combination detectors cost about $35 and are not a significant financial burden, Laurel’s Fire Marshal, Dave Cope, said during a Dec. 6 City Council work session. The Maryland bill states that the financial burden to small business owners and residents who would have to buy the detectors is minimal. Residential units are currently required to have smoke detectors.

To Ensure Safety, First Responders OK with False Alarm

The following is a letter to the editor at the Chetek Alert from Holly Thomas, Executive Director, Chetek Housing Authority.

The City of Chetek, Wisconsin, has a great team of first responders, fire department, police department and EMTs. 

At the Chetek Housing Authority-Lone Oak Manor apartments on Monday, Dec. 17, at 10:20 a.m., I had a call from one of the residents that building number-four had smoke rolling over the roof top. I immediately called 911, and started notifying all the residents of that building to get out. Before we even had everyone out, Ray Parr was the first one on the scene. He called out on his radio, and we started opening the utility and storage rooms looking for the cause and whereabouts. 

Within just minutes there were fire trucks, the ambulance crew and police department all at the scene. They worked so efficiently together to locate the problem. As a result, it was steam coming from a vent. Due to the heavy atmosphere it looked as if smoke was rolling over the roof top. 

My hat goes off to all of those men who responded and stayed much calmer than myself. I apologized for the false alarm, but was assured by Dan Knapp that it was their job. 

The fire department, first responders, EMTs and police department of the City of Chetek are always there for everyone! Merry Christmas and bless you and your family in the new year to come.

False alarms mean real fines in Sandusky

Sandusky, Ohio, police officials say the city ordinance against repeat false alarms will be strictly enforced starting Jan. 1.

The law was enacted in 2004, but because of staffing issues the enforcement has not been a top priority this year, Lt. Phil Frost said.

The first two false alarms at a residence or business will be "freebies." After that people will have to start paying, and if necessary face criminal charges.

That includes misuse of 911, which is a misdemeanor charge.

Alarms that are activated by power outages, for example, will not be held against residents, Frost said. However, alarms with faulty installation or alarms accidentally tripped by employees do count. If people call and tell police they accidentally set an alarm off, it will not only save an officer's trip but save the person on fines, Frost said.

"It's much better if they call right away so we're not going across town," he said.

At the Sandusky Fire Department, Chief Mike Meinzer said false alarms will be looked at on a case-by-case basis, a procedure already in effect.

The reasons behind a fire alarm going off can range from an actual fire, to burnt toast to sawdust being stirred up in a building, he said. "I don't want people disconnecting their smoke detectors," Meinzer said. "I kind of weight it with a little discretion."

That discretion could mean civil penalty if deemed necessary. Meinzer said fire alarms have not been a nuisance lately.

People who had false alarms go off in the past year are being notified by police of the enforcement through mail. The false alarm count will be reset each year.

Repeat false alarm penalties:

First false alarm -- warning

Second -- warning

Third -- $35 fine

Fourth -- $50 fine

Fifth or more -- $100 fine per occurrence

False alarm fines to spike in Pleasant Hill, CA

Beginning next year, Pleasant Hill, California, police are going to make people pay much more for their mistakes.

The current fine of $109 after three or more false alarms in a month will increase to $100 for each false alarm after the first. After the fourth false alarm in one year, police won't show up, according to an ordinance approved Dec. 3, 2007, City Council. 

The new rules, which apply to residential and commercial alarms, take effect July 1.

Although many cities have ordinances with penalties for false alarms, the laws are often outdated or not enforced, according to California Alarm Association President Jon Sargent.

In the past year, Sargent said he has helped leaders in Pleasant Hill, Vallejo, San Rafael and Hayward rewrite their alarm ordinances to include higher fines, a false alarm "school," the authority to hire an alarm administrator and other measures to reduce the false alarm rate. 

"These ordinances that have been around for years, like Pleasant Hill, when you can have four or five free false alarms, that's really no incentive to get anything fixed," said Sargent, who also works for alarm company ADT. "A lot of these older ordinances, they don't fine until you've had several (false alarms), and when they do they only charge $25."

In Walnut Creek, California, fines range from $25 for the third false alarm to $100 for six or more in a 12-month period. Martinez, California, charges $100 for the third false alarm in 30 days. Richmond, California, charges $50 for the third false alarm in six months and $100 for four or more. 

About a year ago, Richmond police considered - but ultimately did not adopt - a policy that would have required verification of a break-in before police would respond, said Lt. Mark Gagan. Instead, police counseled business owners about the tendency of helium balloons and other things to set off alarm system motion detectors. 

The alarm industry has adopted safeguards to cut false alarms. These include calling a customer twice to verify the need for police and developing equipment that creates a brief window of time to disable an accidentally tripped alarm.

Deadline Near for Registering Burglar Alarms in Palmetto Bay, Florida

The last day to register residential and commercial burglar alarms with the village of Palmetto Bay, Florida, is Dec. 31. The village adopted a new burglar alarm ordinance in October, requiring residents to register their alarms with the village – even if they previously had been registered with the county – by the end of the year.

The annual registration fee is $25, with future annual fees waived if the home or business does not have any false alarms. The registration form is available here. 

There is a $100 fine for each false alarm if an alarm is not registered. A registered alarm can have three false alarms without charge.

Registering an alarm gives village police emergency contact information in case a property gets broken into or there is suspicious activity around a home or business.

Palmetto Bay police officers are also available to conduct safety surveys. Call 305-259-1270 for more information.

Fremont, California Sees 31% Rise in Burglaries after Verified Response Enacted

Since enacting California’s first “verified response” policy on March 20, 2005, Freemont has seen a 31.3 percent increase in the occurrence of burglaries and an increase of 32.2 percent in burglaries per 100,000 people when comparing 2005 to 2006 crime statistics.

Through the end of October, 2007, there have been 1,055 burglaries. Burglaries increased from 940 in 2004 to 1,326 last year, according to the department Web site. 

In most cases, Fremont police will not respond to a burglar alarm until someone on the scene verifies that something is amiss. 

Fremont police reject the idea that the increase is related to the alarm policy. "We actually have been steadily having increases in burglaries even before we implemented that policy, and overall crime is up not only in Fremont but Bay Area-wide," Sgt. Daniel O'Connell said. 

Nearby Pleasant Hill, California, police Lt. John Pratt, said he believes "verified response" is the wrong approach for his community that recently enacted a new alarm ordinance. "We wanted to address concern over false alarms and cost recovery, but we didn't want to go to the extreme where we said we weren't going to respond to these," he said. "We still feel we have a responsibility to provide this service to the community.

Rock Hill, SC, Alarm Registration Program Reduces False Dispatch 20%

Early in 2006, in an effort to encourage proper use of alarm systems and reduce false alarm calls, the City of Rock Hill, South Carolina, passed an ordinance (Sec. 24-37, No. 2006-02) requiring alarm system users to register their alarms with the RHPD. The new law went into effect February 1, 2006.

A key element of the alarm ordinance is the requirement that all alarm users have an alarm permit. The alarm permit is an important part of the ordinance because it requires alarm users to provide the RHPD with the names, addresses and phone numbers of three people who can respond to the location of the activated alarm if the need arises. Since the new law was passed, false alarms have been reduced by 20 percent.

Obtaining an alarm permit is free of charge. Alarm users are required to register the locations of their alarms with the RHPD and will then be issued an alarm permit number. If a location has a false alarm but has not obtained a permit, a $25 fee will be charged for each occurrence. The ordinance defines a false alarm as an alarm notification when the responding emergency service providers find no evidence of a criminal offense, attempted criminal offense, fire, smoke, medical emergency or other hazardous situation.

The alarm ordinance encourages accountability and responsibility by charging alarm owners for false alarms. Nobody is perfect, so two false alarms within a 12-month period are allowed without penalty.

Rise in Burglaries Triggers Orders for Alarm Systems in KC, MO Area

East Springfield, MO, is an area hit hard recently by burglars. This neighborhood had several break-ins two weeks ago. In the wake of those break-ins, some homeowners are being reactive in effort to be proactive.

"Money and checks seemed to be what they were after,” said Monty Sowersby.

Sowersby’s home was hit over Thanksgiving.

"It was the company checkbook and it really put us in a bind because now we can't pay bills and it’s hard to make payroll. It was a big inconvenience to our company,” he said.

That inconvenience is why he had an alarm installed on Wednesday.

"Just the sound would scare you away because it's calling. Police are on their way as soon as it goes off,” said Craig Lukens of Central Asset Protection of Nixa.

The alarm can be heard from two miles away; the entire building is covered. A box will detect motion, any activity and broken glass. It’s a system more people seem to be banking on.

“Right now, our business is probably up 100 percent compared to last December,” said Lukens.

In what's usually a slow time of year, Lukens says his company is hustling to keep up.

"When this rash of burglaries happened, we knew we'd get an increase in business,” he said.

“The way they are hitting four, five or six houses a night, and so brazen about coming into people's homes,” said Sowersby, “it gives me a lot of peace of mind."

"Maybe with an alarm system, it might catch someone in the act. That's what I'm hoping for."

Lukens says the average system is about $100 for installation and then a monthly monitoring fee between $18 and $35, depending on how complex the system is.

Once an alarm is tripped, it calls a monitoring company. They then call the home or business owner to verify whether it's a false alarm. If not, police are on their way. And, if no one answers when the monitoring company call, they dispatch police immediately. The goal is within 30 seconds of the alarm.

False fire alarm fines likely to increase in Escambia County

The cost for false fire alarms in Escambia County will likely double soon because of the high number of false alarms.

In October, county commissioners approved a change to the false fire alarm ordinance that will raise the fees. Commissioners could cast a final vote today.

The county's fire fee ordinance hasn't changed since it was enacted in 1992, when the fee was set at $50 for each false alarm after the third one in a calendar year.

In the current fee system, a business can have up to three false alarms before being charged a penalty.

Under the new proposal, the $50 fee kicks in on the second false alarm. And the new fees will be as high as $500 for eight or more false fire alarms in a year.

Lufkin, TX Proposes False Alarm Fines

Alarm systems are important to prevent scenes like this one. But not every alarm city officials respond to is a real emergency. 

One of the top items on the agenda for Lufkin, TX, City Council meeting is a false alarm ordinance. If passed, the proposed ordinance would allow each institution 5 false alarms a year. After that, it will cost $300 for each false alarm. 

"We have one institution that in the past two years has had about 85 false alarms. So you can imagine the type of amount of time and expense going to those types of responses, Lufkin City Manager Paul Parker told us.

"From time to time someone will call warning us it's a false alarm and not to send anyone. However, we're not on the scene so we don't know what the situation is. So we must respond and send units out regardless," Keith Pickley, Communications Supervisor for the city of Lufkin said.

False alarms also put a huge drain on the city's manpower. 

"On an alarm we tend to send three or even four stations. That's three fire engines, one med unit and a rescue truck to everyone of our false alarms because we assume the alarm is an active structure fire," Lufkin Fire Department EMS Coordinator Steve McCool said.

If the city council approves the proposal, they will provide local companies with a plan for the ordinance. It will then be voted on by city council members on a later date.

Sprinklers mandatory in Fayette, Tennessee

All new one- and two-family residential structures in Fayette County will be required to have fire sprinklers beginning April 1, 2008.

In Tennessee, Fayette County commissioners voted 14-5 Tuesday night to make the sprinklers mandatory. The vote came a week after a number of commissioners, at a special meeting, voiced concerns about the mandate and voted against making a decision at that time.

"I think it will save property and lives in the future," Commissioner Ronnie Harris said Wednesday. "It won't help us that much right now, but since this county is one of the fastest-growing in the state, whoever's sitting up there as a commissioner 10 years from now will be glad we did this." 

Fayette County becomes just the second county in Tennessee - Cheatham County near Nashville passed a law in 2006 - to mandate fire sprinklers in new residential housing. The vote also follows the lead of the city of Piperton, which recently mandated sprinklers in new housing there.

Commissioners hope the fire-suppression system in new homes freezes fire-protection problems at current levels, making fire department improvements an easier target in the years ahead.

The new sprinkler code does not require current homeowners to retrofit houses, which would be a daunting financial investment. It does, however, require that any additions to existing sprinklered homes - such as a new room, for example - include fire sprinklers as well.

Existing homes in the county that do not have sprinklers would not be required to install sprinklers if homeowners decide to add a room.

Waco Restaurateur Urges Cellular Back-Up After Thief Cut Lines

Sandra Michna, owner of Michna's Bar-B-Que Restaurant in Waco, TX, says she has a warning for other proprietors.

In the overnight hours of Sunday morning, her restaurant was broken into.

Michna says thieves cut the phone lines outside of her property, disabling the alarm system. Thieves cut wood from behind an outside cooler to gain access to the building, as well as pushing in a metal backdoor.

Michna wants to put out a warning to other businesses that they need to install digital cell back-up on their security alarm systems.

Phone line tampering used to be rare, but is becoming more and more common as burglarers find new ways to break-in.

CSAA Releases Latest Draft of Video Verification Standard

The Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) announces the release of the latest draft version of its CS-V-02 Video Verification Procedures for Burglar Alarms. The standard focuses on how to use video to verify alarm signals and how to provide enhanced information to authorities responding to an alarm. 

Members of the CSAA, Security Industry Standards Council (SISC) and the Security Industry Association (SIA) joined to create the standard. 

The standard is recommended for use by alarm monitoring facilities and by state and local governments as a minimum industry standard for good practice in the use of video for alarm monitoring applications to aid in alarm verification. 

The final document will go through a formal review on Dec. 7. 

To view the draft version, click here.The Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) announces the release of the latest draft version of its CS-V-02 Video Verification Procedures for Burglar Alarms. The standard focuses on how to use video to verify alarm signals and how to provide enhanced information to authorities responding to an alarm. 

Members of the CSAA, Security Industry Standards Council (SISC) and the Security Industry Association (SIA) joined to create the standard. 

The standard is recommended for use by alarm monitoring facilities and by state and local governments as a minimum industry standard for good practice in the use of video for alarm monitoring applications to aid in alarm verification. 

The final document will go through a formal review on Dec. 7. 

To view the draft version, click here.

Evanston, IL Alarms Owners Must Register Systems

All residents or business owners who have alarm systems in facilities, including new owners taking over existing alarm systems, are required to make sure their alarm systems are properly registered with the City of Evanston Police Department. 

The initial alarm registration fee is $100 and subsequent annual renewal fees are $30. To register. Call (847) 866-5928, or leave your name, address, and telephone number and an application will be mailed out to you. 

If you are already registered, please call with any information changes or if you are moving and/or have a situation that will affect your registration. The City of Evanston Alarm Ordinance allows permitted alarm systems three free false alarms within a calendar year. False alarm occurrences from 4-10 are $100 each, 11-24 are $300 each and occurrences 25 and up are $500 each. 

Systems that do not have permits follow a stricter fine schedule: No free false alarms; $250 for the first occurrence; $500 for each subsequent occurrence. 

For more information regarding the Alarm Ordinance and the False Alarm Fee Schedule, click here.

Houston Fire Department Wants to Douse False Alarms

Most of the fines for false fire alarms have gone unpaid in Houston. 

Every day, Houston firefighters roll out to all kinds of calls for help. At Station 8, we followed them as they raced to a building where an alarm went off. 

Turns out, it was a false alarm. 

“We got to go when they go off. We don't know until we get here and find the problem,” said HFD Capt. Michael Cannon. 

And it's a big problem. 

The Houston Fire Department responds to more than 1,200 false alarms a month and every time it happens, businesses are fined $300. However, only about a third of those fines are ever collected. In fact, false alarm calls are such a burden on the city it wants to put more pressure on the businesses. 

“It’s accountability exactly,” said Houston City Councilman Adrian Garcia. 

On Wednesday, City Council is expected to vote on an ordinance adding a $30 collection fee to unpaid fines. 

“If you do happen to get a citation we want to make sure that you pay it because it will be much more expensive not to pay it,” said Garcia. 

HFD is backing the proposal. 

“(The) time and effort waste of manpower waste of resources,” said HFD Capt. Gilbert Bennett. 

Then there's a safety risk. HFD tells us trucks responding to false alarms have been in a number of accidents. 

“Yes, it does put lots of peoples lives in danger,” said Cannon.