Burien Washington Ordinance Refocuses Public Safety, Stops False Alarms

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Nationally, as much as 98 percent of all commercial and residential burglar alarms are false alarms. For one Washington town, such rampant false emergencies came at a cost that was deemed too high to continue. Burien is a community of 45,000 people just south of Seattle. Officials and civic leaders weren't just concerned with the immense financial cost of false alarms, but also the cost to public safety. Every time there's a false burglar alarm or fire alarm, the general public is endangered because false alarms route emergency personnel away from legitimate crises.

To remedy this problem, Burien passed City Ordinance No. 399 to stop the unnecessary calls and focus their resources on public safety. The ordinance allows the city to fine residents and business owners whose alarm systems errantly request emergency personnel. However, this does not apply to personally dialed 911 calls.

The ordinance, which is one of many in a national trend toward municipal false alarm management, embraces the concept of emergency verification. Threat detection technology is valuable, but what is new to the equation is the verification process. Instead of an automated call requesting emergency resources, calls are routed to the monitoring company for verification first. Security experts use remote surveillance monitoring technology to verify the burglar or fire alarms and route the call accordingly. If the emergency is verified, the call is forwarded immediately to emergency personnel. Otherwise, most security companies are able to alert their customers of the error while sparing them a hefty fine.

It's a step that saves the Burien community money and delivers more reliable emergency response. It also achieves better service on the emergency calls because response personnel in Burien know the call has been verified. In the end, the result is a verified security solution that people can trust.