Georgia Joins List of States Banning Fines for Alarm Companies When Customers Generate a False Alarm

Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp has signed a bill that bans counties or municipal corporations from fining alarm companies for false alarms generated by a customer and through no fault of the alarm system’s contractor.

“We appreciate the support of Governor Kemp and lawmakers in supporting our industry and the millions of citizens and businesses we protect,” said John Loud, Vice President of Electronic Security Association (ESA) and President of LOUD Security Systems. “Lawmakers recognized that our industry has worked diligently with law enforcement leaders to develop and implement a Model Alarm Ordinance that significantly reduces the demand on police resources by penalizing individuals or businesses that cause false alarms primarily through user error.”

The introduction of the legislation follows a bitter three-year fight after the City of Sandy Springs passed a punitive ordinance that fined alarm companies. The city’s success in defending the legislation in court caused the legislature to act. Only one other Georgia city, Brookhaven, followed Sandy Springs’ lead.

A number of other states have passed bills similar to the Georgia bill in recent years including California, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, Tennessee and Iowa.

“The model ordinance, which fines alarm users, obtains an average 60% reduction in false dispatches and impacts those causing most of the problems. In fact, 85% of alarm systems generate no calls to the police in any given year,” Said Stan Martin, Executive Director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC).

Under the law companies are responsible for false alarms they cause due to faulty equipment or installation or failure to use a mandated system requiring two calls to an alarm site before notifying police.

“Common sense prevailed,” said Loud. “Our industry stands ready to work with any community that wishes to reduce unnecessary dispatches with a proven model and experts ready to assist.”

Georgia Joins List of States Banning Fines for Alarm Companies When Customers Generate a False Alarm

Atlanta, Georgia (April 1, 2021) – The Georgia General Assembly has approved a bill that would ban counties or municipal corporations from fining alarm companies for false alarms generated by a customer and through no fault of the alarm system’s contractor.

“This bill has wider implications than for just our industry,” said John Loud, Vice President of Electronic Security Association (ESA) and President of LOUD Security Systems. “The concept of fining a company for a problem caused by its customers is the equivalent of sending someone’s speeding ticket to Ford and sets a precedent that could be a threat to many industries.”

“These policies do little to change user behavior, deny the user the right to confront their accuser and access to due process, and fines an innocent party for the actions of another,” said Stan Martin, Executive Director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC).

The introduction of the legislation follows a bitter three-year fight after the City of Sandy Springs passed a punitive ordinance that fined alarm companies. The city’s success in defending the legislation in court caused the legislature to act. Only one other Georgia city, Brookhaven, followed Sandy Springs’ lead.

A number of other states have passed bills similar to the Georgia bill in recent years including California, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, Tennessee and Iowa.

“There has never been any evidence that fining alarm companies was any more effective than the model alarm ordinance that is widely utilized nationally and endorsed by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police,” said Martin.

“The model ordinance, which fines alarm users, obtains an average 60% reduction in false dispatches and impacts those causing most of the problems. In fact, 85% of alarm systems generate no calls to the police in any given year.”

Under the law companies are responsible for false alarms they cause due to faulty equipment or installation or failure to use a mandated system requiring two calls to an alarm site before notifying police.

“Common sense prevailed,” said Loud. “Our industry stands ready to work with any community that wishes to reduce unnecessary dispatches with a proven model and experts ready to assist.”

Shared by: David Margulies, PRExperts

TMA Aims to Reduce False Alarms

Since its founding in 1950, TMA has worked to create and grow relationships between its members and various public safety organizations, including first responders.  Nationally law enforcement responds to millions of calls to alarm systems where no crime or attempted crime has been committed. Research in this area tells us that over 75% of these false alarm calls are attributed to end user error rather than equipment failure.

The Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) staff has worked with various jurisdictions to focus on updating the terminology that companies use to train new alarm users on how to manage their alarm systems.  Efforts in Phoenix, Arizona have reduced the number of false alarms significantly by helping users conquer their fears by using simple to understand vocabulary when explaining how their alarm systems work.  By reframing a technical manual into a language that is comfortable and straightforward, alarm users are stepping up.

Examples include moving from “arming and disarming your system” to “turning your system on and off” and “your home” instead of “the premises or protected property” and providing tips such as adding the alarm company to a customer’s cell phone contact list and having the customer use their cell phone as the primary contact number.

TMA, along with SIAC, law enforcement and member volunteers, created this course to help our member companies educate customers on how to use alarm systems responsibly: “2019 False Alarm Impact Awareness Training: How You Can Prevent False Alarms.” This 30-minute narrated customer training helps alarm owners identify the most common mistakes they make and how to avoid them.

The bottom line is false alarms cost you, your customers, and your community money and resources. Once customers are comfortable with their alarm systems, they will avoid false alarms and maximize their security investment.

Included in the review are how alarm systems work and what your customers can do to avoid mistakes that cause false alarms.

By avoiding false alarms, users will be able to get the most out of their alarm systems and not worry about fines or suspension of services.  Your customers can rest easy knowing that when unexpected emergencies occur, their alarm company is there to respond to any alarms generated from their systems.

As more homes become automated in the era of The Smart Home, more people are including alarm systems as part of their connected space.  Parks Associates recently reported in their May 2019 newsletter that professional installation continues to be the dominant choice for home security systems, but self-installation experienced strong growth in 2017 and 2018.   Self-installed DIY security systems are increasing as systems are set up to interact with the user through a mobile device or a computer.

False alarm reduction is everyone’s responsibility. By setting up easy to follow steps, and reinforcing communication with the monitoring center, everyone can benefit from protecting their home and avoiding false alarms.

For more information, contact education@tma.us.