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Public Safety Officials: DIY Alarm Systems Need to Be Regulated

The False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA) is advising municipalities to create ordinances that do not allow Do-It-Yourself security systems to contact law enforcement officials directly, and require them to be inspected.


According to FARA, police and fire agencies should never be contacted directly by a DIY security system due to the potential for false alarms. Professionally installed systems only contact law enforcement after being filtered by a central station. 

Integrators who work in a city or town that does not distinguish between Do It Yourself (DIY) alarm systems and professionally installed systems might want to pass on the recommendations recently issued by the False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA).

In many cities and towns, DIY alarm systems installed by consumers themselves vs. by a professional security company don’t have to play by the same rules as professionally installed systems. For example, in many municipalities a DIY system does not require a permit, while a professionally installed system does.

The FARA board of directors is trying to rectify some of these inequities by adopting a position on DIY security systems response and issuing a list of recommendations to municipalities for their alarm ordinances.

The group says: “FARA believes that each community has a right to enact whatever false alarm solution best meets its needs. FARA also believes that Do It Yourself Systems should be considered in your alarm ordinance in the following ways”:

  • Ordinances should prohibit a DIY alarm system from directly dialing or otherwise contacting public safety.
  • Any registration or permitting requirements and fines or fees and/or response limitations that apply to the user for a professionally installed system should apply to the user with a DIY system.
  • Municipalities should consider requiring an inspection by a professional alarm technician for systems that have too many alarms. (Editor’s Note: Professionally installed burglar, CCTV and access control systems are not required to be inspected, but fire alarm systems are code-driven and require inspections.)
  • If the alarm user calls in a dispatch request to public safety based on a DIY system and it turns out to be a false alarm, the same fees and/or response limitations that apply to professionally installed systems should apply.

According to the association, the position reaffirms its commitment to the involvement of all stakeholders in the development of local solutions to the false alarm problem. It also highlights the significant plague of false alarms that can be caused by DIY systems.

“The position was adopted because of questions about how to apply local alarms ordinances to do it yourself systems,” says Kerri McDonald, FARA president. “Do it Yourself Systems can cause false alarms and localities need to consider regulating them.”

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Article Topics

News · Home Automation and Control · Security · Cctv · All topics

About the Author

Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.

1 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by JohnA  on  12/21  at  03:45 PM

A lot of talk about false alarms, but no numbers to back it up….  If it is a false alarm why not fine them for each event, and the fine doubles for each recurring false alarm…

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