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FIRE ALARMS

City ordinance has decreased false alarms

Posted

The City of Las Cruces alarm-systems ordinance has now been in effect for eight years and has seen a 59 percent decrease in false alarm calls that place an unnecessary burden on first responders and taxpayers.

The ordinance, approved by the Las Cruces City Council in January 2013, implemented mandatory alarm systems registrations within city limits, fines for excessive false alarms and an education campaign for those who utilize alarm systems that directly notify the Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority 911 center(MVRDA) when activated.

In the year before the ordinance, Las Cruces police and fire responded to 7,747 false alarms. In 2020, the number of false alarm calls decreased 59 percent to 3,210. Las Cruces police saw a 61 percent decrease from 6,991 false alarm calls in 2012 to 2,696 in 2020. Las Cruces fire registered a 32 percent decrease from 756 false alarm calls in 2012 to 514 in 2020.

Fewer false alarms allow police and fire personnel to more efficiently respond to legitimate calls for service. Fewer false alarm calls also save taxpayer dollars otherwise spent on personnel responding to illegitimate calls.

After studying how other jurisdictions addressed similar problems, several public input meetings and meetings with those in the alarm industry, the decision was made to:

  • Require alarm-monitoring companies to make two phone calls to the alarm site to determine the legitimacy of the alarm before MVRDA dispatches police or fire.
  • Deter false activations by creating fines for alarm sites with repeated false alarms.
  • Identify nuisance alarm sites and only respond when an emergency has been verified by a means other than an alarm.
  • Require new alarm systems be installed with equipment designed to prevent false alarms.

MVRDA administers the ordinance, collecting alarm-registration fees, monitoring instances of false alarms and issuing fines for three or more false alarms per year. Through Jan. 5, 2021, 5,263 false alarm fines have been issued.

Visit www.MVRDA.org.