Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Tuscaloosa Sets New Rules for False Alarms

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Tuscaloosa Sets New Rules for False Alarms

Article excerpt

City leaders have enacted new rules governing fire and burglar alarms that are meant to deter alarm owners from allowing repeated false calls.

With a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the City Council passed new laws that could result in a loss of police officers responding to a particular address if the problem continues to persist.

And, in extreme examples, repeat violators could end up with police not responding to their alarm calls for up to a year.

"The whole focus of this is to reduce the number of false alarms because of the large amount of resources spent responding to false alarms, particularly burglary alarms," said Senior Associate City Attorney Jimbo Woodson, who crafted the ordinances adopted by the City Council.

Starting Oct. 1, when the new ordinances take effect, owners of property that generate two false alarms within a 12-month period will be given warnings.

A third false alarm in that span will trigger a required training program on how to prevent false alarms. This "false alarm prevention school" must be completed within 60 days and likely will be an Internet-based training session.

A fourth and fifth false alarm within a year -- or failure to complete alarm school -- will result in a citation and summons to municipal court, where a penalty or fine could be assessed.

And six or more false alarms will mean police may choose not to respond for no more than a year.

These same rules apply to false fire alarms, but these occur at far lower rates than false burglary alarms.

"Burglar alarms have so many more components that can create problems," Woodson said.

In almost every case, the Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service will be dispatched to the call as soon as it comes in. This is in line with national standards. …

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