Fines Add Teeth to False Alarm Ordinance in Fort Mill, S.C.

A keyholder for a property triggering a false alarm must be on-site within 30 minutes of notification from firefighters or law enforcement or face a $100 charge.

FORT MILL, S.C. – The Town Council here passed a false alarm ordinance that will trigger penalties after the third nuisance alarm in a single fiscal year.

The new ordinance is aimed at cutting down on faulty alarm equipment, whether in commercial or residential units, The Herald reported.

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Councilman Chris Moody cast the only vote against the move April 11, after an amendment was added to wait until Oct. 1 before implementing the rule. But Moody believes the effort to cut down on false alarms makes sense.

“Any time we get a false alarm we have to use our manpower, gas, cars,” he told the newspaper. “There’s wear and tear.”

Until Oct. 1, the town will give out information on how to avoid false alarms. A second false alarm at the same site in a given year will prompt a letter to the property owner explaining the rules and suggesting corrective measures.

A third, fourth or fifth false alarm within the year will cost $50. The sixth or seventh will cost $100 and the eighth or ninth, $200. A 10th or subsequent false alarm will cost $500.

A keyholder for a property triggering a false alarm must be on-site within 30 minutes of notification from firefighters or law enforcement, or a $100 charge will result regardless of how many false alarms the property had previously, the newspaper reported.

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According to the ordinance, a false alarm is any activation of a fire, burglary, robbery or similar alarm system resulting in a response by public safety personnel. Fines could apply to a company or firm owning a building, but also a tenant, lessee or agent operating an alarm system within a larger building.

The year-long period would coincide with the town’s fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1.

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