Thanks to the MDJ for this special alert on what residents will be required to do as of 10/1/2007 in regard to their alarm systems. Any feedback?
MARIETTA – Marietta police and firefighters will get some relief from calls to false alarms thanks to a new ordinance the city hopes will get rid of faulty alarm systems.
On Wednesday, the City Council unanimously passed a false alarm ordinance that slaps fines on home and business owners who have more than three false alarms in a calendar year.
Beginning Oct. 1, all home and business owners who maintain alarm systems must register with the Marietta Police Department so they have contact telephone numbers when alarms go off to verify if an alarm is real or faulty.
“I hope it will be good in the sense that we can use public service for true emergencies instead of false alarms,” said Ward 4 City Councilman Van Pearlberg who brought the idea before the city at the request of the police department in May.
Until now, the city had no penalties for numerous false alarms, which officials say drains public safety resources that could be better used elsewhere.
The new false alarm ordinance establishes fines for violators beginning with $50 for the fourth and fifth false alarms. Owners with sixth and seventh false alarm calls would be fined $100, on the eighth and ninth a $250 fine would be imposed and 10 or greater false alarms would cost $500 for each call.
The ordinance also makes it unlawful to install an alarm system that sounds continually for more than 10 minutes.
The new city ordinance will not levy fines for false alarms caused by inclement weather or power outages.
The ordinance does not apply to government and school facilities, City Attorney Doug Haynie said.
Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn said a similar ordinance in Savannah was very helpful when he worked there.
“Last year (in Marietta) we had approximately 10,000 alarm calls,” he said. “Over 99 percent were false alarms.”
Flynn said each alarm requires two responding officers and takes an average of 45 minutes to resolve.
“This is roughly 10 percent of the calls we handle,” Flynn said, adding he hopes to cut false alarm responses by 75 percent to 85 percent.
Flynn said the ordinance is a “shot in the arm” for police resources to have more available hours for important operations.
He recalled one city business that had 89 false alarms in 2006. That one location alone demanded approximately 133 hours by police officers just to respond to false alarms last year.
Had the city’s ordinance been in place, the business would have faced fines of more than $35,000 for that many false alarm responses by city police.
Cobb Commission Chairman Sam Olens said the county does not have a false alarm ordinance, but officials are interested in crafting one.
“No, we don’t, but we are considering one,” Olens said. “We need to take some kind of action.”
Olens added the police and fire departments have been reviewing proposals.
“Everyone’s going to have an alarm going off once in a while,” Olens said, admitting, “There clearly are property owners who are abusing the system.”