Accidental Alarm Program


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To improve public safety and manage Town safety resources wisely, the  Accidental Alarm Program and its associated ordinance set civil penalties for excessive accidental alarms (four or more within a permit year) and failure to obtain permits. 

An accidental alarm is any signal that solicits a response from Police or Fire departments to which the responding units find no evidence of fire or products of combustion or medical emergency or no evidence of unauthorized intrusion, robbery, or other such crime in or on premises. Accidental alarm activations can occur as a result of malfunctioning equipment, human error or environmental conditions.

When the program was implemented, public safety officials looked at how limited resources were being used. Many hours were being spent investigating alarm reports that turned out to be accidental.

In 2012, the Police Department responded to 3,630 alarm calls at a cost of $75,213. In 2012, the Chapel Hill Fire Department responded to 1,250 alarm activations at a cost of $122,400. Police Department routine alarm responses include at least two officers while Fire Department response include three to four fire apparatus with up to 10 firefighters. About 95 percent of alarm dispatches turn out to be unfounded.

The Chapel Hill Police and Fire departments collect alarm statistics throughout the year.

Accidental alarm calls continue to drop since the implementation of the program. In the second half of 2014 (July through December), accidental alarm calls for the police department dropped more than 26 percent; accidental alarm calls for the fire department—which receives about half the number of alarm calls compared to police—dropped more than 10 percent.

Frequently Asked Questions


Agenda Items  


Expand/Contract Questions and Answers

  • What if I change alarm companies?
  • What if I move?
  • Who can I contact if I have additional questions or comments about the ordinance?
  • What if I don't register and my alarm is activated accidentally?
  • Are accidental alarms a problem?
  • When does this take effect?
  • What does the Town hope to accomplish by enforcing the accidental alarm ordinance?
  • How do I register my alarm?
  • Who does this effect?
  • I have an alarm system that is not monitored by a vendor and only alerts me of an activation if I am at home. Do I have to register the alarm?
  • I can’t find my alarm company on the drop down list on the alarm registration page. What should I do?
  • I have been asked to provide a passcode or password for registration. Is this the passcode I use for my alarm?
  • Where do the registration fees and alarm service fees go?
  • Will I be charged for alarm activations that are not accidental?
  • What if my alarm is activated accidentally?
  • Do I have to register my car alarm?
  • I’ve become suspended, how do I reinstate my permit?
  • Who can I contact if I have questions about the registration process?
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