FALSE ALARM REDUCTION UNIT (FARU)
508 S. Rock St., Georgetown, TX 78626
(512) 943-1340 FAX (512) 943-1444
ABOUT THE LAW REQUIRING AN ALARM PERMIT:
The law was adopted by the County Commissioners in September, 1991. It is a part of the effort to educate the public about the responsible use of a security system and to reduce the number of false alarms occurring in the County. Currently, false alarms average 300 per month county wide.
The False Alarm Reduction Unit (FARU) was created to administer the County’s security system law. The FARU’s main function is to reduce the number of false alarms to which officers, fire, and emergency medical respond each year. The FARU registers alarm users, bills for excessive false alarms, and handles informal appeal hearings regarding the revocation of alarm permits.
When a security system is properly installed and maintained, and the users are properly trained, it can give peace of mind to the users. When any one of these elements is missing, the results are quite different. These calls result in many unnecessary calls for service and take officers from pro-active police work. They become very expensive for the Sheriffs Office and eventually add extra cost to the user of an alarm system through fines for excessive false alarms.
With the alarm companies, the user of the alarm system, and the Alarm Unit working together, we can significantly reduce the number of false alarms. We will all be winners.
Failure to comply with the alarm law is a Class C Misdemeanor offense, and can result in a fine of not less than $75.00 and not more than $500.00 for each and every violation\activation of a security system without an alarm permit.
Georgetown PD, Alarm Unit
Contact: Joann Crum
Hutto PD, Alarm Unit
Contact: Edna Vela or David Stripling
Leander PD, Alarm Unit
Please click here for more information
WHO NEEDS AN ALARM PERMIT?
Any home or business located in Williamson County, and outside the city limits of any incorporated city, is required to purchase an alarm permit (register) each system you own and operate. This is required regardless of whether or not your security system is monitored. Download an application
Currently, if you live within the incorporated city limits of the city of Hutto or the city of Leander, you will need to purchase an alarm permit with that city’s alarm unit of their police department.
QUESTIONS MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED:
How do I get an application\permit? Download a copy of the application for permit. Complete it fully, and return it with the required fee to the address on the bottom of the form. You may also call the Alarm Unit at (512)-943-1340 and an application can be email, faxed or mailed via USPS, to you. You may stop by the Sheriffs Office and pick up an application. Your alarm permit will be returned to you in the mail. You do not have to post it in a front window, just know where it is in the event you must show proof of permit.
How much does a permit cost? Permits cost $25.00 for two years and is renewed every other year. A renewal notice is mailed on the 15th of the month before the permit expires.
How many false alarms are allowed before I am fined and how much is the fine? Five free false alarms are allowed in a one-year period. The one-year period begins at the time you have your first false alarm. All others are billed at the rate of $75.00 each, until the one-year period ends. You then begin a second period with another five free false alarms, and the process continues. Your alarm permit can be revoked for non-payment of assessed fines or have more than nine fake alarms in a one year period.
If I move or sell my house or business, what do I do? Contact the Alarm Unit of the Sheriffs Office at (512) 943-1340 and tell the administrator the date you will vacate the premises, your new address, and provide the name of the new owner. Be certain you call your alarm company and have the system cut off and removed from your name.
Can I leave my alarm permit for the new owner\occupant? No. The permit is not transferable to another person or address. It must be cancelled and the new owner\occupant must purchase a permit in their name.
What do I do when go on vacation, or I am going to be away from home for an extended period of time? First, call your alarm company and tell them the dates you will be gone and the name of the person you are leaving in charge of your home. Provide them with all the telephone numbers where that person can be reached. Be sure the person is fully trained on the use of your system and knows the codes to cut off and reset your alarm system.
How long can an alarm system sound before I am fined? Every alarm system must have a 30-minute shut-off feature.
What is the procedure for apartment complexes with security systems pre-wired in each unit? First, the lease manager or owner of the apartments must purchase a permit for the lease office and common areas. Each occupant who desires to use the security system in their individually leased unit must first purchase a security (alarm) permit. You are subject to all the same rules and responsibilities as a homeowner.
What is a false alarm? According to the Williamson County Resolution, a false alarm is any officer response call to your home and the officer finds no evidence or situation requiring law enforcement, fire, or medical emergency response personnel. There is no evidence of an attempted crime, crime in progress, or crime that has just occurred. There is no fire. No one needs medical attention. It does not matter what caused the signal or who caused the alarm to occur.
A false alarm can be caused by numerous things. Examples are:
Visitors, real estate agents, contractors, cleaning crews, or simple error
Doors and windows left ajar or unlocked
Animals inside the premises and the sensors are too low or too sensitive
Mail dropped through a mail-drop slot
Power outages coupled with improper battery back-up system
Telephone line problems
Overly-sensitive system that activates when persons rattle a door or window
Drapes or balloons blowing in the breeze or air conditioner vent
Errors by alarm monitoring service
ALARM OPERATION TIPS
If you accidentally activate your alarm
Try to contact the alarm company immediately, if they do not contact you. If you cannot recite the property’s password or code over the phone to the alarm operator, the police will be dispatched! It is recommended that you wait for the officers’ arrival in front of the property in plain view. Remember that the responding officers probably do not know who you are, so be prepared to offer some form of identification to establish your legal presence on the property in question.
In the case of accidental activation of a robbery or takeover (ambush) alarm, be aware that the responding officers must assume the worst…And the worst for them is the presence of armed suspects on the property. The alarm company will not call you to verify this type of alarm. You may receive a telephone call from the sheriffs office dispatch. It is essential that you do exactly as you are told.
Responding to alarm calls is serious business for officers. Every year, nationwide, officers are killed while responding to these types of calls. Until proven otherwise, we must assume that we are dealing with a crime in progress. Keep this in mind when you accidentally activate your alarm.
“CONSUMER GUIDE TO PURCHASING AN ALARM SYSTEM”
Check it out if you have not already purchased a system.
This is a useful publication from False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA). The article is geared to assist anyone thinking about purchasing an alarm system. It points out things to consider in your decision. There are questions to ask each company you interview, and charts to record the answers for future reference and comparison.
All alarm companies are not created equal. You as the consumer, must do your homework and ask the questions before the contract is signed, just as you would when making any large investment purchase.
PROPERLY INSTALLED, MAINTAINED, AND OPERATED ALARM SYSTEMS DO NOT GENERATE FALSE ALARMS.
Consider the fact, when you purchase an alarm system, you also assume a large number of responsibilities and duties. The use of an alarm system involves a lot of other people, outside your home.
Many useful documents can be accessed through the False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA) website. Click on the Consumer Tips button.
Currently, there are seven (7) Consumer Guides and fourteen (14) Consumer Bulletin, all recently updated with the most current information.
HOME SECURITY GUIDES
The FARA site also has an excellent Home Security Guide. This comprehensive guide will help you analyze your home, yard, and lifestyle and offer you tips on how to best protect your home and your loved ones.
Another good site for security information is www.houseandhome.msn.com
Type the words: “home security” in the search area. Then choose from a long list of useful articles, one of which is the “Home & Safety Center”. Under this section is a “Home Security Guide” and numerous other safety articles for your home and lifestyle
HOME COMPUTER SECURITY
A good site for home computer security is www.cert.org/homeowners, then click on Home Security Security and follow the links.
FALSE ALARM PREVENTION TIPS
The NBFFA (National Burglary & Fire Alarms Association) website, has a False Alarm Prevention Guide that can be useful to persons who may be having problems with false alarms.