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Selectmen Consider Revisions to False Alarm Ordinance

Proposed revisions would help reduce false alarms and improve homeowner compliance with alarm registration.

The Wilton Board of Selectmen is mulling a proposal to modify the fine structure for false alarms, as well as the penalties for homeowners who fail to register their alarms.

Currently Wilton's alarm ordinance uses a tiered penalty system for false alarm violations: The first two false alarms are "free," the third and fourth each result in a $50 penalty, and each subsequent false alarm results in a $100 penalty.

The proposal to modify the town's alarm ordinance would institute a flat $100 fine, starting with the third occurrence (i.e. the first two false alarms would remain "free"). In addition it would increase the penalty for failing to register an alarm to $50, from the current $25, with a mandatory $100 registration fee.

Homeowners would have 45 days to register their new alarms (or new home's alarm) with the Wilton Police Department, whereas currently they have only 30 days. In addition the registration fee of $100 would be a one time fee, whereas currently it is $5 per year.

During Monday's Board of Selectmen meeting, town CFO Sandy Dennies, acting in her capacity as alarm administrator, pointed out that the ordinance — and more specifically the fine structure — hasn't been modified in 12 years. She said the proposed changes would bring the ordinance more in line with what surrounding towns have in place.

Wilton Tax Collector Phil Damato, acting in his capacity alarm registrar, said whenever new people move to town, or a homeowner installs a new alarm system, they are contacted by the fire marshal and reminded to get the system registered.

He said the town takes in about $18,000 to $20,000 a year in false alarm fines and alarm registration fees.

Second Selectman Harold Clark said he thought $100 per incident, following the first two "free" alarms, was fair considering "it costs the town more than $100 to respond" to a single false alarm.

First Selectman William Brennan said the main point in modifying the ordinance is to get better compliance from homeowners.

"We're just trying to get people to register [their alarms], that's the main purpose here," he said.

Brennan said the selectmen will be setting a date for an informational meeting on the proposal. He pointed out that the proposed ordinance change would require approval by the appropriate legislative town bodies.

Alethiologist December 04, 2012 at 12:24 PM
This is one way to cover Brennan's 21% salary increase
Brian Kesselman December 04, 2012 at 02:52 PM
If the goal is honest, ("We're just trying to get people to register [their alarms], that's the main purpose here") then the $100 registration fee is counter productive. And I thought registration was currently free, but that may have been my failing memory. I have no problem with charging a fee for each false alarm after a certain grace period. And the magnitude of that fine changing from $50 to $100 is nominal, since we homeowners should be taking it upon ourselves to minimize false alarms. Anecdotally, my impression is that the actual administration has room for improvement. Within a year from when we installed and registered our alarm I received notices that it was not registered. (I am grateful that the town staff was polite and helpful resolving it.) Two weeks ago at a party here in Wilton 3 of the 5 people discussing alarms had some registration or fine issue like fines for a missing registration on prior owner's disconnected alarms (repeatedly after discussing it with the town), or duplicate notices. If we raise the revenue, we should also raise the productivity. Add alarm registration to item that can be done via the town website. Track them in a database that gets cross referenced with property transfers. Provide tips to alarm owners on how to reduce false alarms (by alarm company) and maybe make that part of an Officer Friendly outreach. Let's give the clerks better tools and make it more efficient.
EMR December 04, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Was Brennan fined for pulling fire alarms in Town Hall?
Cliff Cuming December 04, 2012 at 04:15 PM
HA, HA.he should have been brought to the woodshed for pulling a dangerous stunt like that!
Eustace Tilley December 04, 2012 at 09:17 PM
They fined me for not sending in a form. I did send it in but they "throw away unsigned forms." The form they designed does not require a signature (i.e. "no need to continue") if there are no changes from the previous year. They could not figure it out... Fodder for Heller and Yossarian. Cost me 20 bucks or so for an inside glimpse of how Wilton is run. Ha Ha

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