It’s becoming the norm: your city, town, or county decides that enough is enough when it comes to false alarms, and they take action to address the problem – and it usually starts with a requirement to register your alarm system. You may have seen my prior post on cities charging for false alarms. This latest story comes from Knoxville, TN, where a recent ordinance addresses a longstanding problem:
Unless you register by the end of the year  that you have a security alarm system on your home, you may have to pay a $30 registration fee come Jan. 1 to the city of Knoxville. In coming years, your annual fee would depend on the number of false alarms that have sent police or firefighters to your home, business or governmental entity. “Registration is already required,” said Ron Mills, city deputy law director, “but it doesn’t cost. If you’ve registered by the end of the year, the registration is free.
Novel Approach- Pay to Play!
“It costs more money to roll fire trucks,” Mills said. “It’s an incentive not to have any false alarms. It costs time and money. For the Fire Department, the number of trucks that roll on a standard alarm, imagine the cost of fuel; and, for police officers, it requires sending an officer as well. It’s an incentive not to have false alarms.”
This is a logical (and somewhat rare) way to address the problem of false alarms. In most jurisdictions that require registration, the fee is flat amount, and there are separate fines for excessive false alarms. But in Knoxville, your annual fee is tied to your false alarms.
Zero false alarms: zero fee. One false alarm: $10 fee. Two false alarms: $20 fee. Three or more false alarms: $30. Currently, there is a $25 fine for having three false alarms during a 12-month period.
False Alarms Could Get Very Expensive
The new Knoxville ordinance is designed to “prohibit requests for emergency services from unregistered alarm systems, to provide for annual registration and renewal fees and to provide for reimbursement to the city of Knoxville for administrative expenses resulting from excessive false alarms.” Under the new ordinance, property owners could be assessed in city court the actual cost of police or firefighters responding to false alarms, with the amount for police calls ranging from $25 to $500 and the cost for the fire department calls ranging from $250 to $500.
Some neighborhood leaders say the ordinance is a “good thing” and may recoup some of the money the police and fire departments lose in responding to false alarms. Polly Doka, treasurer of the Lonas Drive Community Association, said she “very much” supports the new ordinance. “I think it is a good thing,” she said, noting that police and firefighters need to make up the lost money in responding to false alarms.
What You Can Do
Your own jurisdiction may have (or may add in the future) a similar ordinance. The best protection against expensive false alarms is the best alarm system, used properly. And when it comes to preventing false alarms, you want the latest technology, combined with quality equipment, and a system that is easy to use. FrontPoint offers all these advantages, with cellular monitoring, interactive features for remote control, and notifications that tell you exactly what is happening in your home. You have a much better chance of heading off a false alarm before the authorities are dispatched – when it pays!