Two Top NC Cities Look to New Alarm Ordinances

Two of North carolina's larger towns have been on the move recently with changes in alarm legislation.

In Durham, N.C., the city has responded to what the city is calling an "all-time high" number of false burglar and fire alarms with a newly approved policy designed to help reduce the number of false alarm calls.

The City Council has boted to impose a revised ordinance which will take effect On Jan. 1, 2006, and will updates the city's policy on alarm registration and false alarm fines.

According to the new ordinance, alarm owners will need to register their systems for a fee of $25; unpermitted alarm systems that create calls will be assessed a $100 fine per call.

In addition, alarm installing companies will be required to register with the city if doing work there; that registration will require the company to be licensed by the state.

As an extension of the ordinance, fines for repeat false alarm offenders will increase. First and second calendar year false calls will only receive a written warning notice. However the third and fourth false calls each will generate a $100 fine; fifth and sixth will be charged $150 each. The fine schedule progressively increases. Seventh and eighth false alarms are billed $200 per instance; the ninth is billed at $250, and the tenth at $300.

Durham's new ordinance will also affect direct-dial alarms that call the police department directly. As of Jan. 1, "Any business or residence currently using such an automatic dialing device will be required to disconnect that system. ...911 will not respond to any alarm unless it first goes through a monitoring service."

Two-and-a-half hours southwest in Charlotte, the city is voting to decide whether to adopt new updates to the city's alarm ordinance. At stake is a proposal to increase the alarm registration fee by $5, to require battery back-ups on alarm systems and to increase false alarm fines. It includes a provision for discontinuing police response to alarms if payments are not made for prior alarm fines.

The Charlotte ordinance, which was scheduled to be under vote at press time, was expected to pass.