Delaware alarm group, NBFAA fight legislation

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Saturday, June 1, 2002

SILVER SPRING, Md.-Officials from the Delaware Alarm Association and the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association are in the midst of a fight against legislation that would institute a verified response policy and fines for alarm companies throughout the state of Delaware.

H. B. 411, which was introduced in February, would set up a situation much like that of Salt Lake City, where alarm companies must be able to verify the alarm before local authorities will respond. The bill would also impose a fine of $150 for each false alarm made to police by a security company. Legislators said the bill is needed because Delaware's false alarm rate is 99 percent.

Although the situation is not unique - Los Angeles; Arlington, Texas and other communities are considering similar policies - the magnitude of the legislation is greater than what the alarm industry has seen before, alarm industry officials said.

"This has never happened before on a state-wide level," said David Johnson, government relations director for the NBFAA.

As more and more communities adopt similar legislation, the likelihood of its passage improves, even though the legislation might not be effective, officials said.

"The problem with this newest trend, the verified response, is it has caught on in a couple of cities and hasn't stood the test of time," Johnson said. Local officials "see the dramatic decrease (in false alarms)when the long-term statistics are going to be the key."

To voice their opposition to the bill, officials from both the state association and the NBFAA testified earlier this spring at a hearing of the Public Safety Committee. The two groups were also scheduled to meet with legislators in Delaware in an attempt to find middle ground within the legislation, Johnson said.

At press time, Delaware officials were waiting to hear from legislators and other proponents of the bill, but had not yet been contacted about a meeting, Johnson said. The bill, meanwhile, had passed the committee and was up for a vote of the full House.

With the end of the session approaching on June 30, Johnson said it was unlikely that the bill would pass this year because it required a two-thirds vote of the house. If approved, the legislation would take effect Jan. 1.