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In 2001, the Legislative Leadership of Cattaraugus County was made aware of a growing problem with false burglar and fire alarms. The ever-increasing number of false alarms has been having a negative impact on Emergency Services in Cattaraugus County for some time. In response to this problem, the Legislature created a committee to study the problem and make recommendations to help alleviate the impact the false alarms are having. The committee that was created consisted of members of the legislature, representatives of the Cattaraugus County Fire Service, representatives of local, county and state law enforcement agencies, and representatives of the alarm industry itself.

This committee met several times over the course of the next few months and examined data on alarm responses, spoke with other municipalities about their luck with preventing false alarms, and developed a draft local law regulating alarms. The research that the committee conducted revealed that the Cattaraugus County 9-1-1 Center handled over 1,600 burglar alarm calls during 2000 and 2001, dispatching various law enforcement agencies to investigate these alarms. It also found that almost every alarm response turned out to be false.

The response to these false alarms is a burden on resources of both time and money. Each alarm response ties up a police officer, making them unavailable for other duties, puts them in danger during their response to the alarm and adds additional, un-needed responsibility and duty to the 9-1-1 center. These same issues are present for responding fire departments when the calls are for false fire alarms. In addition to these problems, repeated response to false alarms causes complacency among responders and slows response times to real emergencies.

The local law regulating alarms in Cattaraugus County was based on a model ordinance that was developed by the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association. This model ordinance and variations of it has been used in many municipalities across the county in an effort to reduce the instance of false alarms. The model ordinance was reviewed and revised by the Alarm Advisory Committee to meet the needs of Cattaraugus County.

Through the use of this local law, the County hopes to do the following things:

  • Reduce the instance of false burglar and fire alarms
  • Responsibly cancel response to alarms that are found to be false by an alarm company before the arrival of police or fire equipment
  • Acquire and maintain better records about the location of alarms, thus improving response times and reducing the total time expended on alarm responses
  • Encourage the proper maintenance and use of alarm equipment to reduce false activations

The Cattaraugus County Local Law on alarms, entitled ALARM SYSTEM REGULATIONS, was passed by the Legislature on May 22, 2002. This local law is now in effect and the county is now accepting registrations of alarm systems in Cattaraugus County. The enforcement of the provision of the local law will begin on January 1, 2003. It should be noted that the City of Olean and Town of Ellicottville were exempted from the local law because they had existing ordinances. Alarms systems in these two municipalities are exempt from the provisions of this local law.

It is the hope of Cattaraugus County that the enactment and enforcement of this local law will reduce the number of false alarm responses, improve the response and service that is provided by emergency services and help relieve the burden that the false alarm problem has put on the emergency response system.

ATTENTION!!!! The local law states the following regarding non-profit and government agencies:

"Non-profit organizations and governmental agencies shall be required to register alarms, but shall be exempt from the registration fee"

HOWEVER, these agencies are NOT exempt from the fees associated with false alarms.

Download the Cattaraugus County Alarm Law

You can view or print the full text of the Cattaraugus County Law regulating alarms.

Download the Alarm Registration Form

You can view and print the Alarm Registration Form. To register your alarm, simply fill out the form and mail it to the address indicated on the form.

These files require the Acrobat Reader or other PDF viewer to view and print.

In the near future, we will be adding a "Frequently Asked Questions" section to the web site regarding the Alarm Law.

For more information about this new local law, please review the text of the law by clicking above, or Send an e-mail to the Sheriff's Office