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False Alarm Fines Can Cost You Plenty – Timely Tips on How to Avoid Them

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November 4, 2011
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False Alarm Fines Can Cost You Plenty – Timely Tips on How to Avoid Them

Security system subscribers are learning that more municipalities now have a registration process for home alarms. And, as cities, towns, and counties deal with well-documented budgetary challenges, they are also looking hard at false alarm fines to boost revenues. That means you, the alarm user, need to make sure your system is registered anywhere it’s required, and that you are doing everything you can to avoid false alarms. This recent headline from Washington, DC has some great advice for alarm users all over the US.

There's a chance or rain every day this week. Lightning strikes and power outages can cause expensive home security system false alarms, but they don't have to. Here are some tips on avoiding weather-related false alarms, and the fines they incur from local police.

Why It Matters

The advice below is timely, since summer storms can knock out power, and we’re more likely to have different living patterns in the summer. It’s also the season when burglaries peak (according to the FBI), so remember to use that alarm system! And if you want more info on how some jurisdictions are dealing with alarm registration and false alarm fines, here’s a post about what they did in Knoxville, TN, and another describing steps they took in Fair lawn, NJ that paint a clear – and potentially expensive – picture for home alarm subscribers.

The Tips

  1. Make sure the system is properly grounded, if it's an old-school system with the “box in the basement.” A self-enclosed system (such as the GE Simon XT sold by FrontPoint) does not require grounding.
  2. Make sure there are surge protectors on both the alarm system and your phone line – if you still have an alarm system that requires a phone line! Cellular monitoring is safer and more reliable.
  3. Repair loosing fitting doors and windows. But remember, modern sensors (especially the wireless variety) are more forgiving in this regard. You don’t need to use door and window contacts with wide gap allowances.
  4. Make sure contacts are firmly anchored. Most sensors being installed today are wireless – and small. The best companies provide the best adhesive.
  5. Make sure the battery backup is charged. Loudon County (VA) recommends alarm system batteries be able to hold a charge for at least four hours, and that’s the basic requirement of any equipment listed by UL (Underwriters Laboratories). The GE Security Simon XT has a 24-hour rechargeable backup battery, just like every GE Security control unit

Examples of Alarm Fines

Many area jurisdictions give you two freebie false alarms. Fines for a third offense typically begin at $100 then increase with each subsequent offense. In Arlington County (VA), for example, fines escalate up to $500 on the ninth and subsequent false alarms within a 12 month period. But in Fairfax County (VA), fines for repeat offenders can be as much as $3,000 for the 25th and additional false alarms. Montgomery County (MD) gives you only one free false alarm. Fines then begin at $25 for a second offense.

Of course, once your alarm system is registered, your best protection against false alarm fines is to reduce the false alarms themselves. That’s where having advanced features (such as notifications, remote arming/disarming, and video services) can make a tremendous difference in your favor. You also want equipment that is tested and proven for false alarm reduction: demand UL-listed equipment, and be sure to ask your company about CP01 compliance for your system’s ease of use (required in some states). As the #1 ranked alarm company in the US, FrontPoint knows all about false alarm reduction. We use GE Security equipment, which meets the most stringent requirements. Plus, we’ll help you get your permit, if you need one, and then we’ll work with you so your system works – when you need it to.

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