If you're interested in having a home security system installed, it's crucial that you stay on the right side of the law when you do it. In almost all cases, that means making sure that you have a valid and up-to-date alarm permit for your system. But just what is an alarm permit, and how can you get one?
Why do you need a permit?
It's not an absolute guarantee that you need a permit – but it's incredibly likely. When security alarm systems were first being installed, local governments realized that they would need a way to keep track of the alarms in order to send out police officers as well as to make sure they weren't swamped with false alarms. Because of this, nearly all municipalities require you to have an alarm permit if you want to use a home security system.
What will happen if you don't?
Since permits are a matter for local government, the penalties can vary. Most commonly, however, you would be fined if your alarm went off and the police needed to be sent to your home – whether there was an actual crime or not. In some cases, emergency response might make your alarm their lowest priority, meaning you would be unlikely to get a fast response unless your area was having a very calm night.
Who do you contact to get one?
You'll need to talk to your local police department or sheriff's office. In some cases, they may also refer you to the fire department for a separate permit; most places, however, use combined permits. Once you have a permit, the permit number will go to your alarm company and be registered with your security system. That way, when the alarm goes off, the police department will immediately see that it's a call from a registered system and respond appropriately.
What if you have an unmonitored system?
Some home security systems are "unmonitored" – for example, a system that simply sets off an alarm sound when it detects an intrusion but doesn't send a signal to any company or emergency responders. Since the purpose of alarm permits is to prevent problems with false alarm signals, these types of systems don't require permits. However, you must keep in mind that loud alarms may be subject to noise ordinances, so a loud alarm going off in the night could still result in fines.
For more information, speak with professionals who deal with security alarm equipment.