Delaware False Alarm Law Goes Into Effect in 2004

DOVER, Del. – The state of Delaware has passed legislation that establishes penalty fines to alarm system owners after three false alarms are reported to authorities. The new law is scheduled to take effect July 1, 2004.

House Bill 57, primarily sponsored by Republican State Rep. Biff Lee, a volunteer firefighter for more than 30 years, was signed into law by Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner in late April.

The bill will levy fines on alarm system owners if their automatic fire alarm system causes more than three false alarms a year. A fourth false alarm will draw a $100 fine, and $200 for a fifth false alarm. Any other false alarm will cost users $250.

Willard Preston, Delaware state fire marshal, says electronic alarm systems account for nearly 26 percent of all firefighter dispatches in the state. Ninety-nine percent of these alarms are false.

Alarm industry representatives and fire companies worked together with state lawmakers on the legislation, says David Johnson, National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) government affairs director. The industry believes the bill is a good compromise.

“The measure is important because now, with residential alarms, people will be required to have them tested and maintained properly, so they won’t cause false alarms and unnecessary running on the fire companies’ part,” Johnson says.

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