November 2012 - Posts

San Francisco, CA, New Law puts CO Alarms in Apartment Buildings

Starting on Jan. 1, 2013, a new law will require landlords to install carbon monoxide alarms in all apartment houses and other multi-family buildings in San Francisco, CA. This expansion to previous CO alarm laws will affect 23,000 multi-unit residences in the city.

The law, enacted in 2010, required single-family and duplex homes to install CO alarms by July 2011. This latest law will expand the requirement of CO alarms to apartment houses and multi-family buildings which have a gas heater, fireplace or attached garage. San Francisco’s older buildings are especially susceptible to carbon monoxide leakage because the poisonous gas often comes from older appliances fueled by natural gas or oil.

According to the new law, a CO alarm will be required on every floor, including basements, located in the hallway outside of bedrooms.
Hotels and motels have also been targeted for failing to install CO alarms in their buildings; however, they will not be required to install the alarms until January 2016. All buildings that undergo construction or are being remodeled will be required to have alarms installed once the construction is complete.
If alarms don’t appear in the specified residences that need them, the landlords will get a warning at first and, if they don’t comply, they will get a citation for $200.

Supreme Court Rejects Plea to Ban Taping of Police in Illinois

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from the Cook County state's attorney to allow enforcement of a law prohibiting people from recording police officers on the job.

On Nov. 26, the justices left in place a lower court ruling that found that the state's anti-eavesdropping law violates free speech rights when used against people who tape law enforcement officers.
The law set out a maximum prison term of 15 years.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit in 2010 against Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez to block prosecution of ACLU staff for recording police officers performing their duties in public places, one of the group's long-standing monitoring missions.

Opponents of the law say the right to record police is vital to guard against abuses.

In May 2012, a federal appeals court in Chicago ruled that the law “likely violates” the First Amendment and ordered that authorities be banned from enforcing it.

The appeals court agreed with the ACLU that the "Illinois eavesdropping statute restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests.”

Harvey Grossman, legal director of the ACLU of Illinois, said the organization was "pleased that the Supreme Court has refused to take this appeal. . .The ACLU of Illinois continues to believe that in order to make the rights of free expression and petition effective, individuals and organizations must be able to freely gather and record information about the conduct of government and their agents – especially the police.  The advent and widespread accessibility of new technologies make the recording and dissemination of pictures and sound inexpensive, efficient and easy to accomplish."

Springfield, MA, Proposed Re-Write to City Fire Detection System Ordinance

In Springfield, MA, after a successful lawsuit, brought on by the St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral, the city’s ordinance requiring expensive fire detection systems in public halls and buildings will be amended.

Before upheaval from the lawsuit, the city was requiring all business owners in Springfield to install a specific radio controlled box in their building. This radio box was provided by only one vendor and was monitored by the Fire Department.

St. George and a handful of other organizations did not comply with this city order, instead wanting to have a choice of various fire detection systems.
The proposed ordinance change will still require that all installed systems comply with the state building code, but business owners will no longer be limited to the city’s preferred system. The amended ordinance has been referred to the City Council’s Public Health and Safety Committee for further deliberation.

Predicted Evolution of Alarm Monitoring from 2012 to 2015

The Education Committee of the Central Station Alarm Association put together a study of the current and projected involvement of various central stations in different types of monitoring. A special focus was put on video monitoring, PERS and senior monitoring, which are major avenues of future growth in central stations. The researchers in this study sought to understand how growth in these three particular areas can be addressed and what can be done to make better business decisions about their level of involvement going forward.

The graphs and statistics reported on the following link were determined by the perspectives of several current industry members who were asked where they saw their monitoring focus by the year 2015:

Dayton, OH, Police Recommend Changing the City’s False Alarm Ordinance

During a city commission meeting on Nov. 21, Police Chief Richard Biehl recommended that commissioners consider changing the city’s false alarm ordinance to decrease false alarms from residents and businesses in Dayton, OH.

The current ordinance will allow two false alarms without penalty, but a third false alarm will cost the alarm user a $50 fine. This fine increases by $50 for each subsequent alarm until it tops at $250 for the seventh false alarm. After seven false alarms, the alarm owner will be put on the “do-not-respond” list.

Biehl suggested that the $50 fine begins with the second false alarm and increases by $50 for each subsequent alarm until it tops out at $200 for the fifth false alarm. After the fifth false alarm, the alarm owner will be placed on the "do-not-respond" list as well.

No action has been taken yet. Commissioners say they still need more information before making a decision.

Santa Fe, NM, Alarm Company and City Settle Dispute

The city of Santa Fe, NM, has made an agreement with John Davis, owner of Advantage Alarm and Security, to settle a lawsuit that Davis filed in District Court this summer over fines and access to public records.

In August, Davis fought back fines from the city of Santa Fe that accumulated to more than $6,500 for “late reports,” even though he had attempted to provide the right information to the city. Davis also claimed that the city had failed to provide him access to many requested public documents.

The city agreed to forgive the penalties against the Advantage Alarm and Security company and will also pay $2,000 to the company “in recognition” of the city’s potential liability on the public records charge.

In 2009, the city adopted rules which require alarm companies, like Advantage Alarm and Security, to register all home and business alarms with the city and to establish fines for repeat false alarms. Enforcement of these practices began in 2011. In 2012, officials made changes to strengthen the ordinance by encouraging proper maintenance of the alarms and to ensure that owners were accountable when police responded to false alarms. Statistics compiled this year have confirmed that these alarm regulations are having a positive effect. False alarms have decreased by about 22 percent since 2011.

Las Cruces, NM, Changes to the City Ordinance Set

On December 4th, the Las Cruces, NM, City Council will address changes to the current false alarm ordinance with a vote to approve these changes on December 17th.

The proposed ordinance will charge a $25 registration fee for residents and a $50 registration fee for commercial properties. There will be no charge for up to two false alarms, but for a third false alarm, a $100 fine will be charged to the alarm owner. The fourth false alarm will generate a $200 fine. For five or more false alarms, system owners will have to pay a $300 fine for each false alarm.

If an unregistered alarm has a false alarm, there will be a $100 fine per occurrence.

Wilmington, NC, Increased Fees have Decreased False Alarms

Two years ago, the Wilmington, NC, City Council passed an ordinance which would charge fines to alarm owners who accumulate excessive false alarms. Officials say that the fines have been successful in 2012 as they have led to less police dispatches to careless false alarms and the city was able to collect $191,000 from false alarm fines.

Under this new ordinance, property owners will only receive a written warning for their first false alarm, but for every false alarm thereafter, they will be billed $50 for a police response and $60 for a fire response. If the false alarm came from a commercial structure, the fine is $117.50 if a fire response vehicle is dispatched.

While city officials are pleased by the success of this ordinance, some of the alarm owners in Wilmington are calling the ordinance a “veiled money-making scheme.”
Local alarm companies in Wilmington have criticized the ordinance as well because alarm users are only allowed one free false alarm in their entire lifetime. Other municipalities allow one or two free false alarms every year.

Hotels in the United States Lack CO Alarms

Hotels in the United States are in desperate need of installing carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. There are approximately 4.9 million rooms in 51,214 lodging properties across the United States, yet only a very small portion of these hotels have CO alarms.

From 2010 through Nov. 8, 2012, there were a reported 30 incidents of elevated levels of CO at U.S. hotels. Of these 30 incidents, more than 1,300 people were evacuated from the hotel, eight people died and at least 170 people were treated by medical personnel or hospitalized.

The National Fire Protection Association said that new hotels, especially with attached garages to the guest rooms or fuel-burning appliances, should be equipped with CO alarms outside each room. In conducting research, USA TODAY asked major hotel chains to identify their individual hotel buildings with CO alarms installed in every room. Most of these chains did not respond and not a single hotel building was named as having these requirements.

To combat the inadequacy of CO alarms in hotel rooms, the International Building Codes (IBC) and the International Fire Codes (IFC) are now requiring all new and existing hotels to install CO alarms in all guest rooms or a “CO detection system in all common areas.” Tom Daly, a consultant for the American Hotel & Lodging Association, said that it typically takes one to three years after new codes are published for them to take effect.

Phoenix, AZ, Police Hope to Cut False Alarms in Half

The Phoenix, AZ, Police Department is trying to cut the number of false-alarm dispatches in half by the end of November. The department has provided the alarm owners of Phoenix with tips that include replacing batteries and making sure the alarm company verifies an alarm signal before any police cars are dispatched.

The city implemented their first false-alarm program with fines in 1977.  Over the years, the fines have increased several times. The current ordinance states that all fines, after a no-fine first alarm, are $96 for each false burglar alarm and $105 for each false fire alarm.

Ed Zuerche, Assistant City Manager, said that the program is effective in cutting down false-alarm calls in the city. Since May 2010, when the current fines were put into place, the number of false alarm calls has dropped every year. The drop in false alarms has been attributed to the consistent fines, offered prevention education, better technology and alarm-company training. Because of these factors, the alarm coalition has named Phoenix as having one of the “nation’s best and most effective alarm management programs.”

Wichita Falls, TX, The WFPD Make Actions to Prevent False Alarms

In Wichita Falls, TX, the police department is pursuing ways to prevent false alarms in their community. An established city ordinance will fine buildings where excessive false alarms occur.  The WFPD specified that only about 45 businesses cause the majority of false alarm calls.

The current ordinance’s fines for false alarms in a 12-month period are as follows:
0-3 false alarms- No fine
4-5 false alarms- $50 fine
6-7 false alarms- $75 fine
8 or more false alarms- $100 fine

Sergeant John Spragins said that the causes for false alarms in many instances are “equipment problems, while other businesses may have simple employee training problems.”

Fire/Life-Safety in a World Where Bigger is Better

America is a country where being “big” is king: bigger hotels, bigger stadiums and bigger restaurants.
These oversized buildings bring a particular problem to the security industry as one has to ask the question: How to you protect a crowded building as long as a football field from fires and other disasters that could destroy the area in minutes?

The answers that the security industry has been coming up with always come back to protection through enhanced technology and smarter planning.

Multi-detection devices that sense heat, smoke and carbon monoxide are becoming more common in large indoor areas. Also growing in popularity are voice evacuation systems that can carry important verbal instructions to people in a building, aspiration systems to sense early fire warnings and other devices to cover large areas in short periods of time.

The planning and technological aspects of fire and life-safety are only the beginning of protecting large-scale indoor buildings.  One must also take into account the engineers and contractors who must balance cost efficiencies, environmental suitability and the business interests of all those involved in the building.

IESA Election Meeting & Vendor Showcase

The Illinois Electronic Security Association (IESA) will hold an election meeting and vender showcase on Wednesday Nov. 14 at the Hyatt Regency building at O’Hare International Airport.

This election is the most important meeting you can attend if you have an opinion about who is leading the association and how it is done. Nominations for a position in office can be taken until the floor votes for each office. Currently, all but one officer position is being contested.

The vendor showcase will take place directly after the election meeting. The showcase has doubled in size to 41 vendors. The projected number of vendors was originally 20.
After the vendor showcase, the ESA and Security America Risk Retention Group (sponsors of the event) will hold a social gathering to give an industry Legislative Update.

The IESA is hosting an upcoming FireAlarm Installation Methods course on Dec. 6-7. Every attendee to the election meeting and vender showcase will have the chance to win a free pass to these classes.

To register for this IESA event, please contact

Video Surveillance Increases Value to the Alarm Industry

It is no secret that the insurance industry and the alarm industry have been hurting in recent years due to high levels of false alarms and low arrest rates. This trend is quickly changing however, thanks to the high effectiveness of monitored video systems that have helped reduce loss for both the insurance and alarm industries.

In a case study published in Police Chief Magazine, a Detroit Public School was given video surveillance to monitor for vandalism and copper theft. After a year, the school had an astounding 70% arrest rate compared to the standard 12% arrest rate made the year before.

The results of video intrusion alarms are leading to more arrests across the country and are saving insurers millions of dollars. The cost of the entire claims process has decreased drastically because the exponential impact of putting one burglar in jail typically prevents an additional 30 burglaries that would have been committed on the street.

The ability to catch a crime-in-progress and have police analyze the recorded footage of a crime is bringing the insurance industry and alarm companies closer than ever.

Sandy Springs, GA, New False Alarm Ordinance Approved

On Tuesday, City Council members approved a false alarm ordinance that will make residents and business owners register their alarm systems with the City of Sandy Springs.

Under this new ordinance there will be no registration fee, but if police respond to a false alarm from a system that has not been registered, the resident or business will be charged $100.

Penalties for excessive false alarm calls will range from $50 to $500. The police department has planned to allow two false alarm calls without penalty, while the fire department will only allow one false alarm call to go without fines.

This ordinance is planned to take 150 days for implementation. In the meantime, the city will educate residents, businesses and alarm companies on properly following the new ordinance and hire a company to help with online registration.

The Physical Security Business records for 2012

In 2012, the total value of the world’s security equipment market at factory gate prices was $20.57 billion. Of this total, nearly half of the equipment was video surveillance products.

The security industry “outperformed” the expectations of stakeholders in the first half of 2012 and this growth is expected to continue for what is left of the year.

The continuing success of the security industry was influenced by the strong growth in IP Video Networking products, buoyant markets in Asia and higher interest from markets in transportation, retail, health and education.

Sioux Falls, SD, Police to Begin Charging for False Alarms in January

The Sioux Falls Police Department have said that in January they will begin charging businesses and homeowners for false alarm calls, starting with $50 fines for residents.

The alarm ordinance, approved by the City Council in September, stated that the first false alarm would warrant a warning letter to the offender and any subsequent false alarm would accrue a $50 penalty.

The new city ordinance also requires all alarm installation and management companies to register with the city. Those who fail to register could be subject to fines. Since the passage of this ordinance on Sept. 28, only two of around 100 companies that serve Sioux Falls have registered.

Plainfield, IL, City Removes Registration and Fees for Residential Alarm Systems

On Monday, the Plainfield Village Board made an amendment to an ordinance which will remove the registration requirement and fees associated with residential alarm systems. There will also be no need for residents to annually renew their residential alarm licenses/registrations starting in 2013.

The registration requirements for commercial alarms will remain unchanged.

According to Traci Pleckham, director of management services, this ordinance was amended to streamline the process of alarm registration for residents.

Residents, however, will still be subject to false alarm fines. The fee schedule is currently $50 for four false alarms and $100 for five false alarms. Each false alarm activated after the fifth mishap will be a fine of $200 to the owner.

The IESA Senses an Opportunity to Regain Customers

Over the summer, a federal judge ordered the Lisle-Woodridge Fire District to discontinue their business in the fire alarm monitoring market. This legislation came as good news to the Illinois Electronic Security Association (IESA) who is now encouraging private alarm contractors to regain the customers that were lost in the Lisle-Woodridge district.

“I’m urging alarm contractors in the state to go claim that business,” said Kevin Lehan, executive director of the IESA and public relations manager at Emergency24.

Oct. 4 was the last day for the fire protection network in Lisle-Woodridge to operate, as set by the judge, but the deadline was extended to Oct. 31 for public safety reasons.
Lehan said that the IESA supports the extended deadline for the benefit of businesses that won’t have a gap in fire monitoring services as they look for a new alarm company.