False Alarm Update: Hartford, Winnipeg, Chicago, Ammon


An attempt to establish verified response for alarms in Hartford, Conn., has failed. Responding to what council members say was a flurry of phone calls from angry home and business owners, the Hartford City Council withdrew a plan Dec. 8 that would have allowed police to ignore any burglar alarm that could not be verified as real.

Under the rejected plan, a homeowner or a private guard would have had to confirm for police whether an alarm was an actual emergency. The sponsor of the proposal, Councilman Calixto Torres, withdrew it before what the Hartford Courant described as a “well-organized crowd of security industry lobbyists and fearful homeowners” had a chance to complain about it in public.

Torres told the Courant, however, that he hasn’t abandoned verified response completely. Torres said that of the 11,000 alarms that police responded to last year, 98 percent were false. “We have a very serious problem,” he said.

Even with the proposal withdrawn, residents and members of the alarm industry still took the time to voice their concerns. Many said they would have no problem if the city more heavily enforced false alarm fines – even to the point of increasing them. “The fine structure is in place,” said Carl Spiegel, of the Connecticut Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (CBFAA). “Our industry believes that financial punitive fines work.”

In other false alarm news:

WINNIPEG, Canada: Police in the Canadian city of Winnipeg have announced that they will soon no longer respond to burglar alarms that have not been verified by an alarm provider.

The verified response policy takes effect in March. Brent Pokrant, of the Canadian Alarm and Security Association, told the Winnipeg Sun that a majority of the city’s more than 100 private alarm services like the new concept.

“Their response times should be better because they won’t be dealing with so many false alarms,” Pokrant said of officers. “We met with our members and to this point, nobody’s come on the record that they’re against it.”

CHICAGO: An analysis by the Chicago Tribune has determined that for every fire alarm firefighters respond to that proves to be an actual fire, five alarms are false.
The city is considering measures to curb false fire alarms. In his 2004 budget recommendation, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley proposed fining building owners who have more than three false alarms a year. But the fines were not included in the budget approved in November. Instead, they will be considered as part of an ongoing review of the city’s fire code, said Lisa Schrader, a spokeswoman for the city’s budget office, to the Tribune.
Similar fines for false commercial burglar alarms were put in place in 1995, and the number of false calls has dropped by about a third since then according to the Tribune.

AMMON, Idaho: The East Idaho city of Ammon has put into place a fee structure for repeat offenders of false alarms.
According to KPVI-TV, the Ammon City Council decided on Dec. 4 to institute an alarm ordinance. A home or business that has more than three false alarms in a year will be fined $100 on the fourth false alarm and $300 for each additional false alarm.

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