Does Your Community Require a Permit for Your Home Security System?

For whatever reason – an increase of crime in your neighborhood or for insurance purposes, for instance – you decided it was time to install a home security system. You did your homework to determine exactly what you wanted and needed in a system; you found the right system in your price range. You think you are ready to call the security company to schedule your installation, but there is one more step you may not have known to take. Did you check to see if your community requires you to have a permit to install and activate your home security system?

Not every city or town requires a user permit or registration of your security system, so it is imperative that you check with your local zoning board. What happens if you ignore filing a permit? In many communities, it would result in a fine and quite possibly non-response from emergency services.

The purpose of the permits, according to a number of home security companies and municipalities, is to help cut down on false alarms. For instance, Pittsburgh’s police department put out a FAQ regarding permitting requirements for alarm systems, and in answering the question on why a permit is needed, it states, “In 1992 Ordinance (Ord.54-1991) was created by City Council and put into law to cut down on the false alarm calls received by the Police Department. When a Police Officer responds to a false alarm call, it takes time away from responding to real alarm calls.”

False alarms are a growing problem across the country, especially as more private residence and businesses are installing security systems, and more and more are instituting new laws and fines to try and keep the false alarms at a minimum. As ADT pointed out on its website, “Some cities and localities that operate a police and/or fire department have historically struggled with the problem of false alarms from home security systems. A “false alarm” occurs when a security system sends a signal to the authorities that there is an emergency when in fact there is none. This becomes a waste of police, fire and medical resources who respond to non-emergencies, which creates additional cost and safety issues for the municipalities that are operating the emergency services.”

Home security systems have made it easy for their customers to keep in compliance with the permit laws. ADT, for example, has a form on its website that allows users to type in their zip code to see whether or not their area requires registration. XFINITY’s website has information for each state and its permitting requirement.

There are two primary types of permits for home security systems. One is a state-monitoring permit; the other is for local emergency entities. The permits are usually renewed on an annual basis. Again, everything is dependent on the actual municipality and its rules, but you may be expected to re-register if you change home security providers or if your home is already installed with a system when you purchase it.

As for those potential false alarm penalties, most communities will waive fines or fees for a limited number of false alarms – if you have a permit.

Sue Poremba is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer who specializes in security and technology topics. She has written on home and business security issues for SecurityNewsDaily, Security Magazines, and others.
Posted on Thursday, March 21st, 2013