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City council aims to curb false alarms
by Angela Spencer
February 13, 2013 10:11 AM | 1629 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In an attempt to reduce false alarms drawing police and fire personnel away from potential emergencies, Johns Creek City Council approved a false alarm ordinance.

“The base reason we’re doing that is because every time that fire engine roles out, there’s pretty significant cost associated with that,” City Manager John Kachmar said. “This is about efficiency … It forces people to fix their malfunctioning alarm systems.”

Part of the ordinance requires people with alarms monitored by a remote monitoring facility to register with the city. Council approved a $0 registration fee.

For police false alarms, the first and second false alarms each year will incur no penalties. Beyond that, civil penalties will be issued, increasing with each instance.

The first false alarm in a permit year summoning the fire department will incur no charges, but after that the charges will rise with each instance.

“We pass this alarm ordinance and you’ll see these false alarms drop drastically,” Fire Chief Jeff Hogan said at the work session. “It drastically changes the rules of the game in that it educates folks in the process. It’s a win-win for everybody involved.”

There will be an appeals process available for those incurring a civil penalty.

Unmonitored alarm owners will not be subject to registration or false alarm penalties, but they will not be allowed to let their alarm sound for more than 20 minutes.

An outside company will be handling the administrative work associated with the ordinance. Alarm companies are telling residents and companies to start registering their alarms now.

Kachmar said that even though an outside company will be handling the administration of the fees, the city will still have enough control to make sure citizens are not taken advantage of.

“We manage it because it’s our responsibility to issue the citation,” he said.

“All their doing is performing the administrative function of sending that citation out. We control that process.”

The ordinance will go into effect May 1 and citizens and businesses will have until June 1 to register their alarm.

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