Alarm ordinance watch

SSN Staff  - 
Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Vallejo, Calif.
Vallejo police chief Robert Nichelini is crafting an ordinance to tighten the penalties for responding to false alarms as well as requiring alarm companies to seek verification that there is a problem before officers are dispatched, the Vallejo Times-Herald reported. Vallejo police responded to about 6,700 alarm calls last year, more than 18 per day, and most of them were false. Currently, the city assesses a $150 penalty after the fourth false alarm. The proposed new ordinance would give property owners one free false alarm before a $100 penalty is assessed.

Hercules, Calif.
In July, Hercules police started enforcing fines for false alarms, the Contra Costa Times reported. Three false alarms nets a $150 ticket, and there's a $200 bill for each false alarm thereafter. Hercules was one of several Bay areas cities to adopt a false alarm ordinance last summer, but it decided to delay implementation of the bill until they worked out tracking and billing. While the billing began in July, the false alarms will be counted from January 2007. However, the 30 or so people who already owe fines will get a one-time amnesty, "so none can claim they didn't know the consequences," the report said. In 2005 Hercules police responded to 1,593 alarms,, only nine of which were not false alarms. Six of the 405 alarms during the first half of 2007 were warranted, the paper said. Had fines been in place since Jan. 1, 2007, police say the city would have collected more than $60,000 for the city's general fund.

Montclair, N.J.
The Montclair police chief David Sabagh has declared that the city's false alarm ordinance is working, the Montclair Times reported. Sabagh said the number of false alarms in the first five month of 2007 has dropped more than 19 percent compared to the same period in 2006. "It's working...I'd like to see a drop of 30 to 40 percent," Sabagh is quoted as saying. Montclair residents get one false alarm free per calendar year. They're charged $50 for the second, $100 for the third and $200 per for four or more.

Nanticoke, Pa.
The Nanticoke City Council passed a new false alarm ordinance in July, the reported. Under the new ordinance the city may charge residents $135 per incident for false alarms.

Phillips, Wisc.
In June the City of Phillips Common Council continued its review of ordinances and codes and began consideration of its fire code, the Bee reported. Among the many topics to be considered is a section on commercial and multi-family dwelling fire false alarms. The proposed ordinance says that businesses, apartment complexes and institutions are required to notify the fire department or fire chief in the event of a fire alarm test. Businesses that have a single false alarm will receive an uncited emergency response. Citations will be issued for subsequent false alarms, however.