California legislators recently approved a new law that bans municipalities from proactively fining alarm companies for a customer’s false alarms.
Language in the legislation (AB 1616), which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on July 31, reads:
“An alarm company operator or an alarm agent shall not be liable for civil penalties and fines assessed or imposed by a city, county, or city and county for false alarms not attributed to alarm company operator error, improper installation of the alarm system by an alarm agent or an alarm company operator, defective equipment provided or installed by an alarm agent or an alarm company operator, or defective equipment leased by an alarm company operator.”
The bill was sponsored by ADT Security Services, which maintained that false alarm fees assigned to the alarm user are an effective way to encourage responsible use of alarm equipment. ADT said the bill aims to ensure consistency in the imposition of false alarm fees throughout the state by codifying current practice.
The bill does not affect the discretion of local governments in choosing what false alarm fee they adopt, according to ADT. It is simply a measure to ensure that emergency resources are directed to actual emergencies.
“ADT supports efforts to meaningfully reduce false alarms, including the establishment of false alarm reduction programs created at the local level that encourage proper use of alarm systems and fine users for excessive false alarms,” ADT wrote in support of the legislation. “Studies have shown that, in general, 80 percent of false alarms are generated by 20 percent of alarm users. Fining chronic misusers of alarm systems can dramatically reduce the number of false alarms.”
The legislation was also supported by the California Alarm Association (CAA) and the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC).
In a blog post, SIAC described the law as “a major victory” for the industry.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen municipalities began to seek authority to fine alarm companies for a customer’s false alarms. This legislation stops that from occurring,” SIAC blogger Dave Simon wrote.