Alarm Ordinance

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Alarm Ordinance in Sandy Springs

Of the nearly 10,000 alarm calls received from monitored alarm systems in 2017, 97+% of those were found to be false alarms, a statistic that is consistent across the county.  The high percentage of false alarms results in a financial cost to the public and threat to public safety by the unnecessary diversion of public safety resources.  

The main intent of the False Alarm Ordinance is to hold the alarm companies and their customers more accountable for false alarms, reducing the number of unnecessary police and fire responses.  

Alarm Companies are defined as individuals, companies or other entities engaged in the business of planning, installing, servicing, maintaining, repairing, and/or monitoring alarm systems.  Under the False Alarm Ordinance, alarm companies working with customers located within the City of Sandy Springs must be registered with the City.  In addition, the Alarm Company must complete an alarm permit registration application for each of its customers.

Companies which monitor alarm systems, but do not install alarm equipment, are considered Alarm Companies and must register its customers in accordance to the Alarm Ordinance. 

In accordance with State of Georgia law, Enhanced Verification is required, meaning the alarm company has attempted telephone verification using the two resources provided by the alarm company's customer.  Alarm Companies are required to maintain a record of all calls to the 911 Center, including the date, time of the call, location of the alarm, and the name, address and phone number of the alarm user. 

ORDINANCE CHANGE

On June 19, 2018, the Sandy Springs City Council approved changes to its False Alarm Ordinance as indicated in the attached document. The changes update the definition of “verified” to mean visual or audible confirmation of an attempted or actual crime, fire, or other emergency situation at the alarm site by means of: 1. Confirmation by the alarm user at the alarm site or via self-monitored audio/visual equipment; 2. Confirmation by a private guard responder at the alarm site; or 3. Audible and/or visual evidence provided by a monitored alarm system, provided that such evidence shall be made available to the emergency communications center prior to dispatch. This change in definition will move the City to a model of full, confirmed verified response through audio, video, or in-person verification.

The ordinance provides that the definition change becomes effective on June 19, 2019 to allow alarm users and alarm companies time to adapt to the new model. All other provisions of the attached ordinance would became effective immediately upon adoption.

Other changes to the ordinance requires alarm companies to notify an alarm user when the user’s system has been registered, to provide users with the appropriate permit number, and to require alarm companies to copy the city on notifications to alarm users when service is suspended for an alarm company’s failure to meet the requirements of the ordinance. 

On May 1, 2018, the Sandy Springs City Council approved a change to Section 18-36 of the City’s Code of Ordinances related to Alarm Permits. When an alarm company has its permit suspended for noncompliance with the Ordinance, the alarm company MUST PROVIDE WRITTEN NOTICE TO ITS CONTRACTING ALARM USERS, notifying them that the alarm company is no longer entitled to request public safety department response to activated intrusion alarms.  Failure of the alarm company to notify its customers as provided shall result in a suspension of the alarm company’s permit for a total of three (3) months following the alarm company coming into full compliance with the provisions of the Ordinance.

  

Alarm Registration

CryWolf Services, Inc. is the alarm administrator for the City of Sandy Springs. An Alarm Company can register the company or any of its customers by calling 1-855-725-7101.  The Alarm Company is responsible for registration of its customers. 

Violations of the Alarm Ordinance & Fines

Fines for false alarms are assessed to the Alarm Company, not the individual alarm user.

Alarm Companies are billed directly for all false alarm fees.  The fee structure is designed to recover the costs of public safety dispatch and response by the City.

Administrative Fines include failure to register an alarm company or alarm system and improper paperwork. A full list is below. 

False Alarms are those calls made by an Alarm Company to the 911 Center in which public safety personnel are enroute to a property location in which the call proves to be unfounded. Cancelled alarms where the alarm is cancelled, but the officer has already checked the premise, are also considered false alarms. An alarm which is cancelled prior to the officer being sent to the premise is not considered a false alarm.

Calls made to request public safety dispatch without state-mandated verification conducted prior to the request for dispatch are administrative violations which disqualifies an alarm for response in addition to a fine to the alarm company.

Alarm Companies are not restricted from passing along false alarm fines to its customers.  Alarm users are encouraged to understand their Alarm Company’s policies and procedures related to false alarms and assessment / payment of fines when entering an agreement with the Alarm Company.

The following are the false alarm and administrative assessments:

False Alarms

1 False Alarm

$25.00

2 False Alarm

$150.00 per occurrence

3 False Alarm

$250.00+ property address is placed on non-response status for 12 months

False Alarm Fine for Automatic Response to Panic | Duress | Hold Up | Fire - $250 per occurence

Administrative Fines

Failure to register alarm company and/or provide the City with a list of all current alarms in operation within city limits

$500.00

Failure to notify City prior to putting an alarm in operation

$100.00

Failure to timely notify alarm administrator of changes to list of alarm users

$100.00

Failure to verify activated intrusion alarm

$500.00

Failure to maintain or present records

$100.00

Installation of non-recessed holdup alarm button

$100.00

Response is always provided for panic, duress, hold-up and fire alarms.

 

Appeals

Alarm Companies may appeal an assessment of a false alarm fine or permit suspension to the Alarm Administrator by submitting in writing the reasons for the appeal within 30 days of the date of the notice sent.  

Appeals should be sent to:  sandyspringsga@publicsafetycorp.com or mailed to: PO Box 102117, Atlanta, GA 30368-2117.  

Please include alarm company name and permit number, the alarm customer’s name and permit number, alarm location, date of the false alarm, reasons for the appeal, and any supporting evidence. An appeal form is available for the alarm company to use in filing by the City’s administrative vendor, CryWolf.

Alarm users assessed fees by their alarm company need to appeal those fees directly to the Alarm Company. An alarm user can work in cooperation with its alarm company by providing information which can be used in the appeal filed by the alarm company. It is suggested that the alarm user check with the alarm company regarding false alarm policies, including a non-payment policy, pending an appeal of a false alarm. 

Click here to view the Appeals Flow Chart

Preventing False Alarms

Preventing false alarms is a shared responsibility between the alarm company and its customers.  The City encourages customers to work with their alarm company to ensure that equipment is well maintained and that all users within a home or business know how to properly operate the alarm system. Additional considerations:

    •       Install reliable alarm equipment and make sure

    •       Make sure you and those who will activate the alarm are properly educated on the system’s operation from your alarm company.

    •       In determining the two contacts required by the State of Georgia for Enhanced Verified Response, consider carefully those contacts – who is the best person to help your alarm company determine if an activation merits a police response. Also, be sure to have your monitoring company’s phone number saved in your phone, so you recognize the number should they call you.

    •       If you do set your alarm off accidentally, disarm your system as soon as possible and give your alarm monitoring station the necessary password and ID number to have the 9-1-1 call canceled.

    •       When a false alarm occurs, identify the cause:

                ◦       Door or window left open/unsecured

                ◦       Air conditioner or heater, moving blinds, doors, etc

                ◦       Janitor/cleaning crew

                ◦       Pets

                ◦       Alarm not set properly

 

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