News Poll: Harmful alarm ordinances worry security companies

More education for end users would help false alarms, 59 percent said
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

YARMOUTH, Maine—In order to combat false alarms, some municipalities—most recently with Sandy Springs, Ga.—seek to bring false alarm fines to alarm companies, and 70 percent of respondents to SSN’s latest News Poll say that this can be a big problem for the industry.

“False alarms are a major issue, not just for communities and first responders but also for the alarm industry,” David Arsenault, project manager for Holden Security, wrote in. “Unfortunately the alarm industry has not taken a proactive approach to reducing false alarms. If alarm companies don't start improving user education and developing relationships with city officials then we will have to accept local jurisdictions adopted ordinances.”

While 70 percent of respondents see false alarm ordinances that hurt the industry as a large problem for the industry, 11 percent said these ordinances are a problem but are well handled when they arise. Nineteen percent do not see ordinances as an issue.

“It is easy to see why municipalities and response officials have become frustrated with our industry. False alarm rates have been stubbornly high for many years,” one respondent said. “As an industry, we need to be monitoring our own internal false alarm rates and dealing with offending customers on a daily basis. This will be a large additional cost to most small and medium dealers, and will be likely ignored by the largest companies. Failure to attack this problem will result in non-response, which will be a big blow to all companies of all sizes.”

Bob Neely, executive director for the Alarm Association of Florida, wrote in, “Through the Florida Police Chiefs Association and the Security Industry Alarm Coalition we have been extremely pro-active for over 10 years coordinating with public safety. Our record in Florida is outstanding with anywhere from 50 to 70 percent alarm dispatch reduction. Also, Florida has a provision in the building code disallowing fines except for erroneous technician-generated alarms.”

Fifty-nine percent of poll respondents said that more education for end users is needed to reduce false alarm rates overall. Thirty percent see better collaboration between the security industry and city officials as the best solution for false alarm rates. According to 11 percent, alarm dealers and installers should be most responsible for dealing with false alarms.

“As an employee of a Central Station, I know first hand that proper training of the subscriber is essential,” another reader said.

SSN also asked readers whether they expect more false alarm ordinances harmful to the industry. Just over half of respondents—51 percent—said yes, there have been more lately. Forty-six percent predicted that the problem will continue at the same rate. Only 3 percent said the matter of harmful ordinances has been lessening.