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Columbus OH False Alarm Facts

Our travels last weekend had us venturing through Columbus, Ohio.  Of course, I had to check out the local False Alarm ordinance.  My search began with a peek at Municode.  This is one of the companies that helps local and state government organize (and create) their regulations. Fortunately for me,  Columbus is one of the cities that is listed with this service. I found the false alarm ordinance  for Columbus in the Business Regulation and Licensing section (title 5 chapter 597).  (If you are trying to find the ordinance for your area, quite often it can be found in the licensing or nuisance abatement sections but it can appear under business regulations or might even have a section all its own).
Columbus has chosen the Licensing Section for the Department of Public Safety to administer the ordinance for the city.  This is fairly common across the country and is one way jurisdictions reduce costs.  It does make sense--issuing registrations is a good portion of what false alarm units do, so consolidating the units can be a good cost cutting measure.
The licensing section's website here lists a $35 charge that includes an application fee and a permit fee.  The resulting permits are valid for two years.  In Columbus, even alarm systems that are not being monitored are required to be registered. Columbus is also one of the jurisdictions that has criminal penalties for not being registered. In this case, it is a minor misdemeanor with a $100 max fine; however subsequent convictions can subject the unlicensed user to a $500 fine and/or 60 days in jail.  I always find these criminal charges interesting since our ordinance does not have this type of penalty.  Someday, I would like to compile statistics on how often these penalties have been levied.
In Columbus, alarm system users are allowed two uncharged alarms per permit year.  After that, the first two alarms are $100, the next two are $200, the next 3 are $400, and any over that are $800 each.  This is an easy system to remember.  The ordinance does allow for appeals of false alarms, but appeals must be submitted within 14 days of the false alarm.  This is a fairly short appeal time.  I couldn't find an appeal fee, but the guidelines are quite specific as to what type of alarms have any chance of winning an appeal.
Alarm companies and their "agents" are required to register with the city as well.  The fee for a company is $200 and $50 per agent and licenses are good for 1 year. A unique feature of Columbus' ordinance is that alarm companies must also furnish proof of liability insurance. I highly recommend that citizens verify that the alarm company is registered with the city before allowing them to install a system.  This isn't a foolproof way to find a reputable company, but it is one way to see that they are at least complying with that portion of the law and may be more likely to be in compliance in other aspects as well.
I enjoyed my brief stop in Columbus and hope that this information is helpful.

This data is presented for informational purposes only. Residents must check with the government in their jurisdiction to determine what the current legislation is and what requirements must be met. 


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