SIA Supports Common Sense Alarm Legislation in Maryland

Alarm Systems

The Security Industry Association (SIA) recently testified in support of two bills before the Maryland General Assembly—Maryland House Bill (HB) 645 and Maryland HB 1117.

Maryland’s HB 645 would update long-outdated local regulations by providing a statewide exemption for wireless, low-voltage alarm systems from electrical permitting requirements. These requirements were established when wired systems were the norm, prior to the advent of wireless systems.

As a result, some jurisdictions in Maryland still require an electrical permit to simply plug a device into an existing outlet, with little relevance to safety or impact on the electrical system. Alarm installers, who are licensed professionals, therefore suffer from unnecessary burdens in time and costs. Many off the shelf wireless security systems are not subject to the same permitting requirements; consumers may install them in the same way with a permit.

SIA testified in support of Maryland HB 646 to reduce these burdens, bring Maryland in line with other states, and to make state communities safer.

Maryland HB 1117 would place sensible limitations on the circumstances under which alarm companies receive fines. Local jurisdictions issue such fines to enforce their false alarm reduction programs.

Under current rules, which vary significantly across jurisdictions, authorities may bar alarm companies from requesting emergency dispatch for improperly registered, or unregistered users. Alarm companies may receive fines for doing so even if the company has no way of knowing whether a user is properly registered. In some cases, Marylanders are fined twice for the same violation, once directly from the jurisdiction, and again if an alarm provider passes along the fined assessed to the company.

HB 1117 would preserve the authority of jurisdictions to fine alarm companies but limit those fines to situations where a false alarm is attributed to company error. Jurisdictions would also assess fines when a registration violation occurs due to company error or renewal under a local program.

Law enforcement and communities have expressed concerns regarding potentially excessive false alarms, which may divert resources and slow emergency response. But the security industry has dedicated significant resources to developing standards and best practices aimed at keeping false alarms to a minimum. This includes the ANSI/SIA CP-01 Standard developed by SIA. CP-01 specifies key features for the exiting/arming and entering/disarming of a facility to decrease the frequency of false alarm dispatches caused by human error.

SIA is optimistic that both bills will pass the General Assembly and become law with the support of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan with the support of the security industry.