False Alarms are a Growing Problem for Austin
If you have a home security system, you are probably familiar with false alarms. If you are considering installing a home fire and burglar alarm system you need to know about the problems caused by false alarms. It can be a big hassle and Austin is assessing fines for repeated false alarms so it can also cost you money. False Alarms account for over 75% of all alarms. False alarms can also make us immune to the sounds of a real alarm situation.
The City of Austin has instituted laws regulating the operation and installation of an alarm system. There is an Alarm Permit Ordinance for Austin residents. It requires an alarm permit for each residence before an alarm system is installed. There is a fee for this permit and the cost was recently increased to help pay for the problem of increasing false alarms. If you want to read the ordinance go to Alarm Permit Ordinance and type in alarm in the search field. You can download the permit at: Austin Alarm Permit
The following detailed information is taken from the City of Austin Police Department website:
The City of Austin has adopted laws regulating the operation of alarm systems. The City of Austin requires an alarm permit for each residence or business that operates an alarm system in the City Limits of the City of Austin. The Austin Police Department enforces and administers the Alarm Permit Ordinance.
City of Austin Alarm Permit Fees
|Type of Permit||Amount||Term|
|Residential (New or Renewal)||$30||12 Months|
|Business (New or Renewal)||$50||12 Months|
City of Austin Alarm Permit Fees
|Type of Call||Number Allowed*||$50 Each||$75 Each||$100 Each|
|Burglary||3||4-5||6-7||8 or more|
|Robbery Panic||2||–||–||3 or more|
*at no charge in consecutive 12 month period
Late Payment Fee $5 per Month
City of Austin Penalties for Operating an Alarm System Without a Permit
- $200 for each response to a non-permitted location.
- Operator is subject to Class C misdemeanor charges.
To obtain a City of Austin alarm permit application:
Complete the Alarm Permit Application and mail it to the address below. If you have any questions or need more information, call the Alarm Unit at 974-5730.
After downloading and printing the application, complete the application and return it with your payment to: (Make check or money order payable to: APD Alarm Unit
Austin Police Department
P.O. Box 684279
Austin, Texas 78768-4279
Transition Plan for Citizens in Newly Annexed Areas
- Annexed citizens will be responsible for complying with all aspects of the City of Austin Alarm Systems Ordinance. Enter “Alarm” in the search field once the Ordinance page loads.
- New citizens annexed into the city who operate an alarm system in their business or residence and have current permits from Travis or Williamson counties will be honored by the City of Austin as follows:
- If the permit has an unexpired term, the permit holder may submit the current valid permit from Travis or Williamson counties along with a City of Austin alarm permit application.
- APD will issue a City of Austin permit for the remainder of the calendar year. There will be no City of Austin Alarm Permit Fee ($30 for residential or $50 for business) assessed during the unexpired term.
- Annexed citizens that operate an alarm system, but do not have a Travis or Williamson county permit should complete an application and submit the appropriate fee. All criminal and civil penalties will apply until such time as a valid City of Austin alarm permit is issued.
Cancellation of City of Austin Alarm Permit
An alarm permit can be cancelled when the system no longer meets the criteria for a permitted alarm system per the ordinance or the permit holder moves from the address. All outstanding charges must be paid before a permit is cancelled. Written notification is required for cancellation. A cancellation form can be mailed to the address referenced above or faxed to: (512)974-6697.
If you have any questions or need additional information, call the Alarm Unit between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday at (512)974-5730.
Preventing False Alarms
It may seem self evident but the best thing you can do to prevent false alarms occurring with your Austin home security system is to carefully read the instruction and maintenance manual that comes with the system. Security system installers are required by city code to provide you with training. Make sure this happens. Operator error is the most often cause of an improper alarm dispatch. It is usually recommended to not begin active monitoring of your system for a week or so to allow you and the household members to familiarize themselves with the workings of the system.
Commons Causes of False Alarms:
- Faulty or depleted batteries. Dead or weak batteries are often the cause of false alarms. Almost all systems will remind you when batteries need replacing.
- Loss of power. If a circuit breaker is tripped this will activate some alarm systems
- Major changes to your interior: Oftentimes a renovation or major changes to furniture, window treatment or the interior layout can be the cause. You may need to contact your security system company to check out your system after such changes.
- Pets in the house. If motion sensors can be set up to accommodate indoor pets, but if you acquire a pet you will need to modify the system.
- Others who have access to your home. Sometimes homeowners forget to disable the system when guests, the cleaning service or maintenance personnel will be visiting the residence. Remember to give training on the system to all folks you trust to enter your home when you are not there.
- Moving objects. Fans and other moving objects can trigger an alarm.
- Faulty sensors. Access sensors on doors and windows can sometimes become loose or develop a faulty connection. Make sure you security company checks this out if you feel it is causing the problem.
What to Expect From your Alarm Monitoring Company
Your monitoring company should try to verify every alarm signal it receives with the exception of hold-up alarms before dispatching the police. If a false alarm is determined after the police have been called, they must attempt to cancel the call. Be sure and ask your home security company to provide you with an installation certificate showing that you have been trained on the system. They should provide you with a copy of the required registration forms.