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.”
Stan Martin, executive director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), added, “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,”
The introduction of the legislation follows a three-year fight after Sandy Springs, Ga. passed a punitive ordinance that fined alarm companies. Only one other Georgia city, Brookhaven, followed Sandy Springs’ lead.
“The security industry has dedicated a significant amount of resources to developing standards and best practices aimed at keeping false alarms to a minimum,” said Don Erickson, CEO of the Security Industry Association. “This includes the ANSI/SIA CP-01 standard developed by the Security Industry Association that specifies key features for the exiting/arming and entering/disarming of a premise to decrease the frequency of false alarm dispatches caused by user error. Enactment of HB 465 will give local businesses the chance to work with alarm users to ensure the fullest possible compliance with local requirements, while protecting them from unfair penalties.”
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 percent reduction in false dispatches and impacts those causing most of the problems. In fact, 85 percent 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,” Loud said. “Our industry stands ready to work with any community that wishes to reduce unnecessary dispatches with a proven model and experts ready to assist.”
Governor Kemp is expected to sign the bill later this month.