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Sandy Springs Expands False Alarm Ordinance With Notification Rules

Security dealers must notify customers they are on a no-response list or if an alarm site is suspended for excessive false alarms.

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — The City Council here amended the municipality’s false alarm ordinance, adding requirements for alarm companies to notify customers they are on a no-response list or if an alarm site is suspended for excessive false alarms.

Installing security contractors must now send the city a copy of the notification; and to make the notification to customers by U.S. Postal Service certified mail within seven days of a suspension. Failing to make the notification or copy the city will result in a $100 fine.

The council adopted the new requirements at its Dec. 18 meeting. The action follows the U.S. District Court dismissal earlier this month of a federal lawsuit by the Georgia Electronic Life Safety & System Association (GELSSA) and two alarm companies, A-Com and Safecom. The suit challenged the constitutionality of the false alarm ordinance, which fines alarm companies for false alarms reported to 911 on behalf of their customers.

The city says it gets thousands of alarm calls a year, of which about 99% are false, tying up police officers and firefighters and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Under a law passed unanimously last year, Sandy Springs fines alarm companies for false alarms reported to the city. In April, the city told 39 companies that had failed to pay the fines that it would no longer respond to their intrusion alarms; it still would respond to fire alarms, duress calls, panic buttons and direct calls to 911. Almost all of the listed companies eventually paid the fines.

The city also defines businesses that monitor alarm systems, but do not install alarm equipment, as alarm companies and therefore must register its customers in accordance to the  ordinance.

The underlying goal of the ordinance, according to city officials, is to slash nearly 12,000 false alarms each year by forcing companies to adopt modern alarm-system technologies.

The council last updated the ordinance in June, requiring alarm companies to make an audio, video or in-person confirmation of an intrusion alarm before calling 911. The new requirement takes effect in June, 2019.

About the Author

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Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for latimes.com. Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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