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False Alarms

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NEWS
November 14, 2003
A BELATED brouhaha about Baltimore City's penalties on false alarms is much ado about nothing. Cities and counties across the country have adopted similar fines because cash penalties are the best way to reduce chronic false alarms, which are costly and which unnecessarily divert police and firefighters from real emergencies. In April 2002, when Baltimore's false-alarm ordinance was approved, it was so uncontroversial that only one City Council member voted against it. But now that police are finally getting around to sending residents bills for the annual $20 registration fee, throngs of homeowners are upset.
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NEWS
By Justin George and Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun | April 18, 2013
NAACP employees were going through the mail Thursday at national headquarters in Baltimore when they found a strange-looking envelope. It bore no return address and had a Memphis, Tenn., postmark - just like letters to President Barack Obama and a Republican senator this week that tested positive for the deadly poison ricin. Within minutes, the FBI ordered workers to evacuate, and emergency responders rushed to the scene. It turned out to be a false alarm; the letter was a request for assistance.
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NEWS
June 3, 1994
The recent episode of the Randallstown burglar alarm that wouldn't shut up isn't your typical false alarm story. Indeed, many people (none of them Randallstowners) found it a mildly amusing tale.To police departments nationwide, though, false alarms are no laughing matter. As the fear of crime scares more homeowners into buying burglar alarm systems -- 8 percent of U.S. homes were wired in 1992, a figure expected to approach 20 percent by 2000 -- the number of false alarm calls has consequently increased.
NEWS
By Erin Cox, The Baltimore Sun | December 23, 2012
Several flights were delayed at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport Sunday morning when a false fire alarm automatically shut down the baggage area for Southwest Airlines, one of the airport's largest carriers, officials said. While authorities ultimately determined there was no fire on the conveyor belt system that transports baggage, the delay from the alarm and investigation caused some complications for travelers during the busy year-end holiday season. "It did cause a little bit of the delay.
NEWS
By Larry Carson and Larry Carson,Staff Writer | October 20, 1992
The Baltimore County Council gave the Fire Department authority last night to issue tickets carrying fines of up to $400 for excessive false alarms and uncorrected fire code violations.The change -- passed by a unanimous vote -- is expected to reduce the time county fire inspectors take to get code violations corrected in commercial buildings, and cut down on false alarms by encouraging better maintenance of automatic fire alarms.Deputy Fire Chief John F. O'Neill said the county is merely taking advantage of a new state law that went into effect Oct. 1. That law gives local governments the power to impose fines for more than three false alarms per month, or eight per year, and for uncorrected fire code violations.
NEWS
August 17, 1995
Four years ago, Howard County Councilman Vernon C. Gray introduced a measure to license security systems and to fine owners whose alarms habitually rang false. But after some debate, not one county council member, save for Mr. Gray, voted for the proposed regulations.As time has passed, it has been the police department -- and ultimately the citizens of Howard County -- who have paid for that missed opportunity.The Gray bill was never perfect. Its fine system -- $75 for every third false alarm in a 30-day period or fifth alarm in a 12-month period -- would still have allowed abusers to slip through the cracks.
NEWS
June 7, 1994
Crime may not pay, but the fear of it certainly does. That's true at least for the booming security alarm business, which has grown into a national industry earning about $20 billion a year. In 1992, 8 percent of U.S. homes were equipped with burglar alarms, but as the fear of crime increases and home systems become more affordable, that figure is expected to approach 20 percent by the year 2000.An unhappy consequence of this boom is a steep rise in the number of false alarms that strain the dwindling resources of local police departments.
NEWS
By Andrea F. Siegel and Andrea F. Siegel,andrea.siegel@baltsun.com | August 19, 2009
As Anne Arundel County joins the many local governments that levy fines for repeated false alarms, the county is giving homeowners and businesses a grace period until at least January. The law cracking down on false alarms took effect this month. But the county does not expect to have a company in place to run the program until January. "There are going to be no penalties until a vendor is in place," said spokesman Justin Mulcahy. "Enforcement will be in January." The law goes after repeated false alarms.
NEWS
By Nicole Fuller and Nicole Fuller,nicole.fuller@baltsun.com | June 24, 2009
Anne Arundel County police can start fining homeowners and businesses for repeated false alarms starting this August under a bill signed into law Tuesday by County Executive John R. Leopold. Co-sponsored by Leopold and County Councilman Josh Cohen, the law aims to cut down on the time officers spend responding to false alarms. In 2008, Arundel police received 31,206 alarm calls; in only 230 of those instances was an actual crime taking place, police said. According to police statistics, false alarms resulted in 8,582 hours of wasted manpower last year.
NEWS
BY A SUN STAFF WRITER | May 18, 2001
Baltimore County police are crediting the county's alarm-reduction ordinance for a sharp drop in the number of false alarms last year. The department released statistics this week showing that the number of calls for alarms dropped 21 percent last year compared with the year before. Authorities estimate that 98 percent of alarm calls are false. The County Council established fines in 1998 for businesses that experience more than three false alarms in a year. The fines range from $50 to $1,000.
MOBILE
By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun | August 23, 2012
Enforcement of a three-year-old Annapolis law levying fines for false security alarms will begin Sept. 1 as city police start cracking down on businesses and residences. Property owners will get a pass for the first two false alarms; for the third and fourth within a year, a civil fine of $100 will be assessed. That jumps to $200 for subsequent false alarms. The clock doesn't start ticking anew until 365 days pass with no false alarm, said Annapolis Police Maj. Scott Baker. Responding to false alarms costs the city money - an estimated $60 to $65 per officer responding, and sometimes two are sent.
NEWS
By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun | November 16, 2011
The unidentified substance found Wednesday on a Baltimore-bound Southwest flight was determined to not be a threat, a spokeswoman for the airline said. Hazmat and rescue crews from Palm Beach County investigated a "suspicious chemical powder" found on a Southwest Airlines 737 jet, determined the powder was not dangerous and then released the plane back into the airline's control, said Ashley Dillon. At about 7:30 p.m., the company was working to get the plane in the air and minimize the delay for passengers, she said.
EXPLORE
By Kathy Hudsonhudmud@aol.com | November 13, 2011
We recently received a notice from the Housing Authority of Baltimore City saying that we have an alarm system that is not currently registered. We registered our system years ago and renewed its registration several times by sending in a check. We had not received a billing notice in at least a year, so maybe that lack of payment is what kicked out the letter. To receive a letter that misstates the fact and adds that “maintaining an unregistered alarm system is a violation… which could result in a $250 citation for residential users” feels heavy-handed to those who dutifully open mail and pay their bills promptly.
NEWS
By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun | September 26, 2011
Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young is calling for increased scrutiny of the city's False Alarm Reduction Program, which he says is partly responsible for the city government's seizure of thousands of homes. "People [can rack up] thousands of dollars in false alarms," said Lester Davis, Young's spokesman. "The city can seize your home over unpaid bills. You want the city to have some teeth, but you also want to be smart. If someone is not paying, does it make sense to take someone's home and now the city is responsible for another vacant property?"
NEWS
By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun | June 6, 2010
Watchdog brings you several updates this week on previously reported issues. Update: The dogs aren't around anymore, and Randall Martin is happy. The Sandtown-Winchester resident contacted Watchdog when dogs started living in the vacant house next to his home. He had contacted 311 for help with the hole in the house, to no avail. But after Watchdog got on the case in March, housing crews fixed the hole in the empty building, preventing the dogs from taking shelter there.
NEWS
By Andrea F. Siegel and Andrea F. Siegel,andrea.siegel@baltsun.com | January 31, 2010
Anne Arundel County police are offering online registration for security alarms starting this week as part of an attempt to crack down on false alarms. Registration is required under a new law, which fines owners of properties that have repeated false alarms, said police spokesman Justin Mulcahy. When the law took effect in August, county officials said enforcement wouldn't begin until January because they did not have a contract with a company to run the program. In December, the Waldorf-based Public Safety Corp.
NEWS
By Steven Stanek and Steven Stanek,Sun Reporter | June 11, 2008
Anne Arundel business and home owners responsible for repeated false alarms could pay more than twice as much as frequent violators elsewhere in the state, according to a draft bill presented yesterday to the County Council. Offered by the police leadership and County Executive John R. Leopold's administration, the draft bill calls for a starting penalty of $125 for a third false alarm violation. No other jurisdiction in Maryland has an initial fee exceeding $50, and some start as low as $25, said representatives of the Maryland Burglar and Fire Alarm Association.
NEWS
November 17, 2009
C arbon monoxide poisoning killed three members of the Wiley family in July 2005 after the colorless, odorless gas built up to astronomical levels in their Eastern Baltimore County rental home in the Cove Village complex, apparently as a result of faulty installation of the unit's furnace or other appliances. It's not so surprising, then, that immediately after Cove Village management installed carbon monoxide detectors in all the other homes in the complex that firefighters got a string of false alarms from nervous residents.
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