Sterling Heights adopted a False Alarm Ordinance (PDF) in March 2005. The ordinance allows the City to recover the costs incurred by police officers and firefighters who respond to more than 5,100 false burglary and fire alarms each year.
Costs of False Alarms
False fire and police alarms cost taxpayers nearly $250,000 annually, a figure that includes salaries for police officers, firefighters, and dispatchers, fuel costs, record keeping, and wear and tear on equipment.
“The intent of the ordinance is to encourage those few property owners who account for the majority of false alarms to fix their malfunctioning alarm systems,” said City Manager Mark Vanderpool. “This will allow police officers and firefighters to better respond to true emergencies, provide a safer environment for our residents, and ease wear and tear on emergency equipment.”
False Alarm Procedures
Under the ordinance, property owners who experience their first false alarm incident will receive a letter from the City informing them that they have a faulty system, along with an explanation of the ordinance and potential penalties for future occurrences. For repeat offenders, there are penalties and fees as established through the Appropriations Ordinance.
In extreme cases where false alarms exceed 6 and false fire alarms exceed 5, the City will likely seek District Court action for alarm system compliance and restitution. Under the new ordinance, exceptions can be made for false alarms triggered by weather, utility problems, and testing.