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by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, February 4, 2009
HAGERSTOWN, Md—A public hearing held Feb. 3 found the Washington County Board of County Commissioners discussing a proposed false alarm ordinance. The ordinance as proposed looked to collect fines from consistent false alarm generators rather than punish, with a high yearly permit fee, all alarm users, most of whom, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, are not consistent repeat false alarm offenders. Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said the ordinance passed, but not as originally proposed. “There were some modifications to it. We did agree to drop the fee for the initial permit, and we also dropped the business permit, as well as the reinstatement fees,” Mullendore said. “It permits us to do the false alarm violation fees. Those are still established at $30 for residential, $60 for business." Mullendore said the first two violations result in a warning, while the third violation is when the fees kick in, adding $20 per residential violation and $25 per business violation to the respective base fees up to a maximum of $100 per violation for residential and $200 per violation for business. A recent story in the Herald-Mail claimed that business fines were capped at $250, but the Washington County Sheriff's Office assures me that $200 is the correct number. The new ordinance will take effect Jan. 1, 2010. “That’s because we’re in the process of doing a consolidated emergency communications center,” Mullendore said, “and we wanted to be sure that was up and running before we try to administer this.” According to Mullendore, permits will still be required but will have no associated cost. If alarm owners choose not to get the appropriate permit there will be additional fees to pay. “There would be a response the first time,” Mullendore said. “The second time, if [a business owner with an alarm system] still hasn’t gotten the permit, then it would be $60 violation fee.” Mullendore said that to his knowledge there were no industry professionals present at the public meeting, held here at the Washington County Administration Building. “There were a couple of citizens there, but we addressed all their issues prior to,” Mullendore said. “There were actually no public comments whatsoever.”
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, February 2, 2009
The city of Wichita, Kan. has announced it will hold an informational meeting in conjunction with the Public Safety Corporation aimed at reducing false alarms. All alarm installation and monitoring companies with clients who reside or do business in Wichita are encouraged to attend the meeting, which will be held Feb. 20 at 2:00 p.m. at the Wichita Police Department. The Wichita PD asks that if you can not attend, or if you have questions regarding the city's ordinance or the false alarm reduction program, you contact them by email or call 316-268-4525.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Saturday, January 31, 2009
EMERgency24, a central-station alarm monitoring company based in Chicago, announced on Jan. 30 that it had donated $1,000 through its Responder Reward program to the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department, Company 10, in Bethesda, Md., on behalf of Splaine Security Systems of Kensington, Md. This Responder Reward donation was made to acknowledge the fast response by the Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department (CJPVFD) to Patti and Michael Hellyer’s home in Bethesda. The department's speedy response saved the couple's three dogs and substantially minimized property damage. The photoelectric smoke detectors installed by Splaine Security Systems quickly recognized the fire scenario and alerted EMERgency24 monitors who dispatched the authorities immediately. During the ceremony, CJPVFD Chief James Seavey said that incidents like this highlight the important role alarm-system installers play in keeping our communities safe and the value of having a security system monitored by a central station. “This situation underscores the importance of having a monitored alarm system.” Sam Splaine, President of Splaine Security Systems, explained that security is a linear process. “If any link in the chain fails – the sensor, communication to the control panel, alarm transmission to EMERgency24, dispatch of the emergency responders – then everything else is wasted. A smoke alarm monitored by EMERgency24 is so much more effective than a system that only has an audible alarm. If no one is home, the neighbors won’t hear your alarm because of the way houses are insulated, but they might hear the windows explode eventually. Unfortunately, by that time, most of the house is gone and pets have no way of escaping. That sums up the importance of having a monitored alarm system.” The purpose of the Responder Reward Program, according to Patrick Devereaux, Senior Vice President of EMERgency24, is to recognize firefighters who put out blazes and to draw attention to criminal apprehension when the police respond to EMERgency24 dispatches triggered by monitored alarm systems. "The EMERgency24 Responder Reward Program was developed to thank firefighters and police officers for the invaluable services they provide in communities across America. Police officers and fire fighters responding to alarms is a vital function that makes our communities safer," Devereaux said. EMERgency24, headquartered in Chicago since its founding in 1967, is a nation-wide provider of central-station alarm-monitoring services with branches in Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. The company monitors 165,000 subscribers’ accounts.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, January 29, 2009
Monitronics announced on Jan. 28 the launch of its new customer-account interface, MyMonitronics, aimed at bolstering the company’s online service offerings. The move follows on the heels of the sweeping overhaul of the company’s main website, www.monitronics.com. According to the press release, MyMonitronics was built in direct response to customer feedback. MyMonitronics lets users pay bills, download product user manuals, enroll in direct debit payment programs, and take advantage of business-referral rewards programs, among other features. The site also features video testimonials from Monitronics customers from across the country, and provides targeted alarm product information aimed specifically at families, single parents and seniors.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, January 26, 2009
Following up on a Security Systems News story I wrote back in November, The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International announced today (Jan. 26) the approval of an American National Standard to provide a standard data exchange for the electronic transmission of information between alarm monitoring companies and public safety answering points. Called the External Alarm Interface Information Exchange program, the new ANS was approved on Jan. 15 and is now an accepted standard and should, according to Pam Petrow of Vector Security be a boon to the industry. "I think it creates a great opportunity for the alarm industry and should be very cost-effective for the 911 industry to implement,” Petrow said back in Novemeber when the program was entering the ANSI standards testing process. The new ANS can be downloaded here.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, January 23, 2009
ATLANTA—Atlanta's City Council hopes to collect $3 million from people who have multiple false alarms at their homes or businesses. The 15-person council voted unanimously Thursday, Jan. 22 on a proposal that increases fines and simplifies the penalty process regarding fire and burglar alarms. “The Atlanta Police Department supports the legislation on false alarms which will reduce the number of false alarm calls generated,” said Deputy Chief George Turner of the Atlanta Police Department in a statement. “This will create additional manpower hours to respond to the present call volume and increase police visibility in the Atlanta communities.” While Atlanta has had false alarm penalties in place for a while, it has not collected any fine revenue since 2005. According to the proposed ordinance, a project of Councilmember Anne Fauver, Atlanta had $4.4 million in issued, but uncollected false alarm fines in 2002. From 2000-2004 Atlanta saw revenues of only $1.5 million in collected fines. The reason for the drop off in collected fines? Fauver claims the ordinance was too difficult to enforce and that police stopped giving citations. Fauver believes the new ordinance will help the city out of its current budget hole. “The City’s emergency personnel need to be available for valid alarms and for their primary purpose of protecting our citizens,” said Fauver in a release. The ordinance gives a free pass for the first false alarm, but after that, penalties escalate from $100 for the second false alarm to $1000 for any false alarms over six in a calendar year. Under the ordinance, citations would be enforced like traffic tickets through the city's municipal court, and would allow for appeals. The legislation will go into effect upon approval by the mayor.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, January 22, 2009
Sonitec Corp. on Jan. 20 announced it had become a SafetyCare Authorized Partner and would soon begin the roll-out of SafetyLink, the company’s new personal emergency response system. I spoke with SafetyCare general manager Mike Bodnar last year on the growth coming in the PERS industry. SafetyLink customers in metropolitan New York will have the benefit of access to a 24-hour-a-day safety and security system at the push of a button. Unlike other PERS systems, the owner of a SafetyLink system gains instant two-way voice contact with a certified emergency medical technician at the National SafetyCare Response Center, based in Reading, Pa. Leslie Lief, president of Sonitec Corp., believes the partnership with SafetyCare will benefit end users and Sonitec dealers immensely. “We've chosen to make a strategic and substantial investment in the SafetyCare product,” Lief said in a statement. Lief also said that a comprehensive website and a sales staff are being dedicated to SafetyLink now. Bodnar said Sonitec brought a strong industry reputation as well as a 33-year record of service in the New York area to the table. “We're pleased that Sonitec recognizes the unique product offerings at SafetyCare, as we work to steadily revamp and improve the security industry in this country,” Bodnar said in a release. Sonitec is the most recent addition to a growing stable of security companies taking advantage of the growing PERS industry through the SafetyCare Authorized Partner Program. Other recent Authorized Partners include LifeCall, LLC, Independent Living Solutions, and Eastern Distributing, among others. Pictured below are SafetyCare general manager Mike Bodnar (left) and Leslie Lief, president of Sonitec (right). [caption id="attachment_1661" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="SafetCare general manager Mike Bodnar and Sonitec president Leslie Lief"]SafetCare general manager Mike Bodnar and Sonitec president Leslie Lief[/caption]
by: Daniel Gelinas - Saturday, January 17, 2009
I just got this news alert in my inbox. Entertainingly accurate, if somewhat journalistically-questionable transcription aside, it's a pretty cool testament to the power of having your premises protected by video monitoring. It's nice to see the security industry doing it right, helping people out, being a powerful tool to help police stop the bad guys, and reducing false alarms. Keep up the good work guys!
by: Daniel Gelinas - Tuesday, January 13, 2009
According to a recent release from iControl, ADT Security Services, a provider of electronic security systems, on Jan. 9 announced a partnership with iControl Networks that will allow ADT to offer its customers a new interactive services solution. The agreement incorporates iControl's next-generation platform, which iControl refers to as Home Security 2.0, into ADT's monitoring network to provide ADT home and business customers with life safety, lifestyle and productivity service enhancements. "ADT customers will soon be able to remotely control their security systems and much more," said Don Boerema, ADT's chief marketing officer in the release. "In an office, while on vacation or from virtually anywhere in the world where there's access to the Internet, users can conveniently manage their homes or businesses, saving time and money." ADT's personalized solution will integrate security, energy and lighting control, live video, event-driven video clips, pictures and a host of other functions. Through an easy-to-use, personalized Web site or a Web-enabled mobile phone or PDA, ADT customers will have remote control and access of their expanded ADT security system. The new solution will be easily upgradeable to many of ADT's four million-plus customers and millions of other potential clients throughout North America. ADT will provide home and business control management through a state-of-the-art Web-based platform that supports a variety of technologies including Z-Wave. With several companies providing customer solutions through Z-Wave and other wireless protocols, ADT customers will be able to arm and disarm their security system, lock and unlock doors, control heating and air conditioning, turn lights on or off, help provide home health protection for the elderly and disabled, remotely view live video, event-driven video clips and pictures, receive text messages and e-mail notifications when events occur.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Tuesday, January 6, 2009
The City of Chicago recently (I heard about a notice being posted on the city's website on Dec. 30) and quietly enacted some radical changes to their False Burglar Alarm program. These quiet and sudden changes have been meeting with some resistance. Chuck Mishoulam, owner/president of Chicago-based Alert Protective Services, Inc., said the changes are not only sudden, but extreme. “It’s pretty radical … We’re all a bit taken aback by it,” Mishoulam said. “It’s a big deal. People make mistakes, and come in and can create a false alarm—an employee, an owner, or whatever the case might be—and I think having the three free passes before was just a better way to do business … You know there’s a human factor involved here. It’s not just an equipment thing … so people have to have the ability to have some wiggle room to make a mistake. So the three free ones gave people enough warning to know `I’ve only got three of these things, so I should be careful.’ But you hit somebody with a $100 fine and an administrative hearing and that all takes time for people.” This is one way to assure that people maintain and test their alarm system, I guess.

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