The Niagara County Sheriff's Department was scheduled to begin enforcing the county's new false alarm law today, according to Sheriff Thomas A. Beilein.
The law, passed by the County Legislature in June, stiffens the fees charged for false fire and burglar alarms. It succeeds a 1993 version which was never enforced because the county lacked the record-keeping capability to keep track of buildings with frequent false alarms. New computer software has solved that problem.
Beilein said the law's purpose is to reduce the number of false alarm calls that deputies and fire companies respond to.
Property owners will be allowed one avoidable false alarm per year. Fees for false alarms will begin with the second incident. For burglar alarms, the price is $25 each for the second and third alarms, with the fee going up by $25 for each subsequent alarm.
For fire alarms, the second avoidable false alarm costs $50, the third $100, and then the price rises $25 for each succeeding alarm.
Alarms set off as a result of lightning, other bad weather, or by power failures will not be charged. The intent of the law is to prompt property owners to better maintain their alarm systems.
Beilein issued the following set of guidelines for businesses and homeowners with alarms systems:
Alarms should be installed by reputable contractors that offer 24-hour customer service or monitoring.
Systems should be maintained in accordance with manufacturer's specifications.
Users should become familiar with the alarm system pass codes.
When the system is to be tested, the alarm company should be contacted first.
In case the alarm is accidentally set off, it should be reset and both the alarm company and the Sheriff's Department should be contacted quickly.