October 2012 - Posts
October was False Alarm Awareness Month for the Tredyffrin, PA, Police Department (TPD) who have been taking serious actions to prevent false alarms in the town.
TPD Superintendent Anthony Giaimo said that officers try to be flexible when dealing with residents and businesses that cause false alarms, but there are penalties in place for those people who have frequent false alarms. Fines range from a warning for the first false alarm to a fee of $1,100 for seven or more false alarms from a commercial property.
Giamio suggested that any one that hasn’t had their alarm system serviced recently should do so.
“Many simple steps can be taken to make sure these things don’t happen,” Giaimo said. “We want to make it clear that we want them to keep their alarms hooked up, and we’ll provide as much information as we can to assure that they function properly.”
Emergency24 is one of several third-party monitoring companies that have contributed to a partnership with law enforcement and the insurance industry for a public/private endeavor called the Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response (PPVAR).
The purpose of the response is to bring together all of the stakeholders in property crime to reduce losses and increase arrests through the use of video intrusion alarms.
Getting alarm companies, police and insurers to work together has been a longtime goal of Keith Jentoft, a coordinator for the partnership and president of RSI Video Technologies.
“This partnership will help gather real-world examples of what is working best for all the stakeholders,” said Jentoft.
At the Oct. 22 Dunwoody, GA, City Council meeting, council members agreed in a proposed ordinance to remove a $15 annual fee for residents.
To compensate for this loss to the city, all businesses will have to pay a $25 annual registration fee for their monitoring alarms.
Changes to the proposed false alarm ordinance have been discussed and debated over three council sessions since it was brought to the council’s attention in mid-August by Police Chief Billy Grogan. The issue was once again tabled on Oct. 22 until a future unknown date.
The issue with the ordinance that is holding up the council’s final decision is that, under the ordinance, police are not obligated to respond to a non-verified alarm if the home or business owner has not paid previous false alarm fees within 30 days a given fine. Grogan believes that the choice for police to not respond to owners who do not pay certain false alarm fines is the “teeth” of the ordinance.
On Oct. 22, the Memphis, TN, County Commission approved a change to the county’s alarm code ordinance which will help reduce the number of false alarms allowed before a fine is incurred.
The revised ordinance will give the alarm owner a $25 fine after the second false alarm. The past ordinance would charge the owner only after the third false alarm.
Commissioner Heidi Shafer suggested that the commission consider petitioning the Tennessee Legislature to allow counties to raise the fines, as a way to shift the cost of responding to alarms from those who use their alarms correctly to those who abuse the system.
On Oct. 16, the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors signed a contract with Livermore-based consultant R. Schumacher and Associates to help formulate a false alarm ordinance for Calaveras County, CA.
Members of the Board of Supervisors asked Schumacher to go light on first-time offenders and only impose heavy fines when multiple offenses have occurred.
It is hopeful that the firm’s know-how could provide a major boost to the city Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff’s Department of Alameda County, a neighboring county, obtained grants from $5 million to $30 million in four years thanks to the Schumacher firm.
The city of Beaumont, TX, is proposing an increase in residential and commercial security alarm fees due to a high number of false alarms.
Registration fees for residential alarms will increase from $15 to $35 and commercial alarm registration will increase to $50. Annual renewal fees for residents will climb to $25 and $50 for businesses. Representatives of the city say that these raising false alarm fees were established to closely follow the fines set in neighboring cities.
The proposal states that there will be penalties after 3 false alarms instead of the current penalties starting after 8 false alarms.
The City Council will vote on the proposed changes at their meeting on Oct. 30.
After council members voted on Tuesday night, a new ordinance was passed
which requires businesses in the city of Nitro, VW, to register their fire alarm systems with the city government and pay a fine if firefighters respond to more than four false alarms in a year.
The ordinance will take place immediately although the fine costs for causing more than four false alarms in a year are yet to be determined.
Police Chief Terry Sult presented a proposed false alarm ordinance to the Sandy Springs, GA, City Council.
The proposal stated that all alarm owners must register their alarms with the city, and that police have the liberty to impose a fee for false alarms.
The first and second alarm will not result in a fine, but the third through fifth false alarm will lead to a $50 fee. The sixth false alarm will be $100 and the seventh will be $150. Every consecutive false alarm after seven false alarms will increase in increments of $100 with 10 or more false alarms resulting in a $500 fee. Owners of unregistered alarms will be given a $100 fee.
The council will make a motion on the proposed ordinance at its Dec. 18 meeting.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
, 80,100 carbon monoxide (CO) incidents occurred in 2010, which is nearly doubled from the 40,900 incidents reported in 2003.
In 2010, 60 percent of CO related incidents occurred from October through February when residents seal up their homes and use alternative heating methods.
To combat the potentially fatal effects of CO poisoning, a new Residential Building Code took effect in Ohio which will require carbon monoxide detectors to be installed outside of each bedroom or sleeping area in new homes with fuel-burning appliances of attached garages, reported Journal News
While some people are encouraged by the regulations, others want more homes to contain detectors, especially during the cold months when more residents are staying inside.
On Oct. 15, the Town Board of Cornelius, NC, approved an ordinance which would charge a fine to residences or businesses that have repeat false alarms.
Alarm owners will have to register their system with the town and pay a $10 permit charge every year. Current alarm system owners will have until Jan. 1, 2013 to apply for and be issued an alarm permit.
Fines for false alarms will be dealt with as followed:
The first and second false alarm: no fine
The third, fourth and fifth false alarm: $50 each
The sixth and seventh false alarm: $100 each
The eighth and ninth false alarm: $250 each
Ten and more false alarms: $500 each
The alarm user charged with a false alarm fine has 30 days from the date of the fine notice to pay off the fine amount. If the fine is not paid off within 30 days, law enforcement has the right to discontinue responding to the alarm.
The Town of Cornelius may create and implement an alarm user awareness class that will inform alarm users of the problems created by false alarms and instruct alarm users how to help reduce false alarms.
A new ordinance in Key West, FL, will require residents and businesses to register their burglar alarms with the city Police Department by Nov. 15.
The ordinance was enacted in July.
The cost for registration is $50. If there are no false alarms for a year, however, registration renewal will be free. Failure to register an alarm system followed by a false alarm will be punishable by a fine.
On Oct. 12, the city of Albany, GA, sent out a newsletter to all residents reminding them about a city alarm ordinance which charges fines for false alarms.
This ordinance has been in place since 2001.
The ordinance requires all alarm systems in Albany, GA, to be registered within three business days of installation. This applies to burglar, fire and medical alarms. Residents who do not register their alarm systems within the three day allowance will be subject to a fine of $100. Alarm systems which exceed five false alarms during a calendar year are assessed a service fee.
Officials in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ, introduced an ordinance during the Sept.25 Mayor and Council Meeting which will issue false alarm fees and require residents to annually register alarm systems with the Borough of Ho-Ho-Kus Police Department.
A resident must register their new alarm system within 30 days of installation. Any alarm device or system installed before the ordinance was adopted must be registered within 45 days of the adoption of the ordinance. There will be no initial or annual registration fees, but any alarm system not registered by the set deadlines will be subject to a $25 late fee.
Also, fines will be given to residents or businesses which cause frequent false alarms. For the first three false alarms, an official written warning will be issued. For the fourth and fifth false alarm, system owners will be issued a $50 fine. The sixth through ninth false alarm will cause a $150 fee. For ten or more false alarms, a $250 fine will be issued to the alarm system owner.
The owner of an alarm system who experiences more than 12 false alarms in a year may be required to disconnect the system for 90 days and provide a statement from the alarm service saying that the malfunction has been corrected.
On Oct. 15, Lowell, MA, will begin implementing a new alarm ordinance to combat false alarms.
Under the new ordinance, alarm owners will not be charged for causing the first two false alarms, but a third false alarm will cost a $200 fine, a fourth false alarm will cost $250 and five or more alarms will charge the owner $300 for each offense. Commercial sites face higher fines due to the fact that more officers are typically sent to commercial buildings than residential buildings.
Commercial sites will pay $15 for a registration fee while residents will pay $10 for a registration fee.
To help enforce the ordinance, Lowell hired PMAM Corp., an outside contractor operating several false-alarm reduction programs across the United States. PMAM's job will be to mail information to alarm companies and residents, answer questions, process invoices for registration and fines and develop a website that provides information to the public and handles payments.
Deb Forgione, co-chair of the Pawtucketville Citizens Council, suggested that the city administration and council consider having a public forum where councilors can weigh in on the ordinance and the public input will be sought after.
The Police Department in Honolulu, HI, (HPD) are asking the City Council for permission to pass Bill 66 which would put an interest charge on businesses and homeowners who fail to pay fees for their security alarms on time.
Through Bill 66, police are also hoping to hire a private vendor who would manage the city’s security alarm registration.
The HPD hope that the bill will give them authority to impose a monthly interest charge on alarm owners who fail to pay their service fees and fines within a 30-day billing period. Alarm owners will be charged 1 percent interest per month for outstanding charges.
The current alarm program, used in Honolulu since 2002, requires any building owner with a security system to register it for $15 and renew it annually for $5. For unregistered systems, the alarm owner will be charged a $100 fine for the first false alarm and subsequent false alarms in a 12-month period will be charged $300. If the alarm is registered, an alarm owner will be allowed three false alarms without penalty, but $50 will be charged for the fourth or more false alarms. The purpose of this program has been largely to encourage alarm owners to be more accountable for their alarm systems and cut down on false alarms.
Bill 66 passed the first of three required votes from the council on Oct. 9 and it will advance to the Council’s Safety, Economic Development and Government Affairs Committee for more discussion on Oct. 16.
The issue of false alarms was largely discussed during a Lewisboro, NY, City Council meeting on Oct. 1.
It was concluded that there are two approaches to preventing false alarms: One is to charge a fee for answering each false alarm and the second approach is to establish a permit fee to register a home security system, followed by a fine if the alarm is not registered.
The council will be looking at the fee systems established in nearby towns such as Bedford and Somers for ideas to create their own false alarm ordinance.
Lewisboro Police Chief Frank Secret said he favored a one-time registration fee rather than fines for individual false alarms.
Officials agreed to discuss this matter again before moving forward.
On Oct. 2, Police Chief Mike Kabbel appeared before the Prescott, AZ, City Council to report on the false-alarm ordinance that went into effect on July 1, 2011.
Under this ordinance, alarm owners have acquired two warnings for causing false alarms before getting fined at $100 intervals for each consecutive false alarm. The ordinance has proved successful by resulting in a 28-percent drop in false alarms over the past year.
To better strengthen the ordinance, Kabbel proposed requiring that all alarms are registered so that tracking the owners to properties will be improved. In addition, he asked that government agencies are not exempt from the ordinance.
Kabbel is hopeful that with these tighter requirements, false alarms could decrease by 30 to 35 percent.
Police Chief John Lau has requested that the false alarm ordinance in Titusville, FL, be revised to have more deliberate consequences for false alarms.
The measures which Lau hopes to revise in the ordinance include:
• Reduce the amount of time violators have to pay fines.
• Create a no-response policy for unpaid fines from excessive false alarms.
• Require multiple call verification when alarms go off.
• Establish incentives for attending alarm awareness classes and for upgrading control panels.
Under the current ordinance, a spoken warning is given for one false alarm and a written warning is given for the second offense. After these two free false alarms, each consequential false alarm will result in a $130 fine.
Glen Mowery, liaison for the Security Industry Alarm Coalition in Charlotte, NC, suggested that alarm users have 30 days to pay fines for false alarms or else police will enact a “no-response policy” on their residence. In a no-response policy, police will not react to alarms reported by residences or businesses who have unpaid false alarm fines.
Mowery also suggested developing alarm panels that are easier to operate.
“By simplifying the panels and the settings within the panels, it eliminated the potential for human error,” said Mowery.
At a council meeting on Oct. 3, City Councilman John Montgomery proposed an ordinance in Nitro, WV, which would enact a fine on businesses that have more than two false alarms in a year.
The ordinance would also require new businesses to register their alarm systems when applying for a business license.
Suspicion of this ordinance led the proposal to be sent back to the Ordinance Committee for amending. Changes in the amended ordinance include that owners will not be fined for up to four false alarms in a 12-month time span and that the business will not be penalized if the alarm is pulled as a prank.