Sarasota, FL 34230

Alarm Ordinance


Sec. 11-155. - Purpose; intent.

(a) The purpose of this article is to encourage security alarm users and alarm businesses (sales, installation, customer service and/or monitoring) to maintain the operational reliability and the proper use of alarm systems in limiting unnecessary police emergency responses to false alarms.

(b) This article governs security alarm systems, requires permits, establishes fees, provides penalties for violations and creates a system of administration.

Sec. 11-156. - Words defined.

[The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:]

Alarm company means a business employing licensed technicians which sells, inspects, installs, maintains, repairs or monitors an alarm system.

Alarm enforcement officer means the person or persons designated by the chief of police to administer, control and review alarm applications, permits and raise alarm notifications as required by this article.

Alarm site means a single premises or location served by an alarm system or systems.

Alarm system means any single device or assembly of equipment arranged to signal externally and/or transmit to a central monitoring station the occurrence of a police emergency requiring immediate attention and to which police units are expected to respond. An alarm system does not include:

(1) A single station alarm device designed to alert only the inhabitants of a premises that do not have a local alarm.

Alarm technician means any person who inspects, installs, repairs or performs maintenance on alarm systems and is licensed by the State of Florida or works under a state licensed alarm contractor as required by F.S. ch. 489. 

Alarm user means any person, corporation, partnership, proprietorship, governmental or educational entity or any other entity owning, leasing or operating an alarm system or on whose premises an alarm system is maintained for the protection of such premises.

Alarm user awareness class means a class conducted for the purpose of educating alarm users about the responsible use, operation and maintenance of alarm systems and the problems created by false alarms.

Automatic telephone dialing device or digital alarm communicator system means an alarm system which automatically sends a coded signal over regular telephone lines by direct connection or otherwise, indicating the existence of the emergency situation that the alarm system is designed to detect.

Building department means the building department of the City of Sarasota.

Cancelation means the process where response is terminated when the alarm company designated by the alarm user notifies the consolidated communications center there is not an existing situation at the alarm site requiring police response after an alarm dispatch request.

Central station refers to a facility that houses the alarm receiving equipment, annunciators, recording equipment and associated test and power supplies; is staffed at all times by competent and experienced personnel who supervise the circuits and investigate signals.

Consolidated communications center means the law enforcement communications center that receives emergency and/or general information from the public, and dispatches police, fire, and/or emergency medical personnel.

Designating authority refers to the chief of police or an authorized representative.

Alarm enforcement officer means the police chief or his designated representative.

False alarm means the activation of an alarm system through mechanical or electrical failure, malfunction, improper installation or the negligence of the alarm user, his employees or agents, and signals activated to summon law enforcement personnel unless law enforcement response was cancelled by the alarm user's alarm company before law enforcement personnel arrived at the alarm location. An alarm is false when, upon inspection by law enforcement personnel, evidence indicates that no unauthorized entry, robbery or other such crime was committed or attempted in or on the premises which would have activated a properly functioning alarm system. Excluded from this definition are: 

  1. Alarms occurring during electrical storms, hurricanes, tornados, and other act of God; where there is clear evidence of physical damage to the system; or
  2. The intermittent disruption or disruption of telephone circuits beyond the control or the alarm company and/or alarm user; or
  3. Electrical power disruption or failure in excess or four (4) hours.

Fee means an assessment of a monetary charge payable to the city, authorized pursuant to this article.

Keyholder means any person authorized to enter the premises who can disable/reset the system.

Local alarm means an alarm system that emits a signal at an alarm site that is audible or visible from the exterior of a structure.

Permit holder means any person who is granted a permit for the premises in which an alarm system is installed.

Permit year means a twelve-month period beginning on the day and month on which an alarm permit is issued.

Person means an individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization or similar entity.

Placed into operation means an alarm system put in service which has met all requirements of this article.

Premise means any structure or combination of structures and curtilage thereof, or any other area within the structure wherein an alarm system is installed.

Response to an alarm means a response to an alarm activation where any officer or member of the police department shall be dispatched to the alarm site where an alarm has been activated or where any on-duty officer or member of the police department learns of the activation of the alarm system(s) by any means whatsoever and responds by traveling to said alarm site. The response ends when the officer or member has completed their investigation of the incident or, in the case of a burglar alarm only, is notified by a central station that a proper code in has been received.

Serve shall mean hand-delivery by a representative of the police department or delivery by the U.S. Postal Service, registered mail, return receipt requested or otherwise, at the discretion or the alarm enforcement officer, to the permit holder, occupant or keyholder of the alarm site.

Special magistrate refers to the code enforcement special magistrate as defined by section 2-306.

Verify means an attempt by the monitoring company, or its representative, to contact the alarm site and/or alarm user by telephone or other electronic means, whether or not actual contact with a person is made, to attempt to determine whether an alarm signal is valid before requesting law enforcement dispatch, in an attempt to avoid an unnecessary alarm dispatch request. For the purposes of this article, telephone verification shall require, as a minimum that a second call, also known as an enhanced call verification, be made to a different number if the first attempt fails to reach an alarm user who can properly identify themselves to attempt to determine whether or not the alarm signal is valid before requesting law enforcement dispatch.

Sec. 11-157. - Permit required; registration; fee; transferability; false statements.

(a) Prior to the installation and/or monitoring of any security alarm system which requires modification to the existing structure or its electrical service, the property owner, or a state licensed contractor acting on the owner's behalf, shall obtain all required permits, if any are required, from the building department.

(b) Every person who owns, leases, possesses or operates a security alarm system within the city shall obtain an annual permit issued by the chief of police through the alarm enforcement officer. 

  1. A thirty-five dollar ($35.00) registration fee shall be payable at the time of application for a permit. The permit shall be renewed annually through the alarm enforcement officer no later than fifteen (15) days after the anniversary date of the system being placed into operation.
  2. A separate registration fee shall be paid for each security alarm system at each separate alarm site.
  3. Upon receipt of a completed registration form and a nonrefundable permit fee of thirty-five dollars ($35.00) for a new permit or thirty-five dollars ($35.00) for a permit renewal the designated authority shall issue an alarm permit to the applicant unless the applicant has failed to pay any fees assessed under section 11-157 or 11-161.

(c) Every person who owns, leases, possesses or operates a security alarm system within the city shall fully complete the application/renewal for annual permit for alarm system form provided by the alarm enforcement officer.

(d) Any false statement of a material matter made by the applicant for the purpose of obtaining an alarm permit shall be sufficient for refusal to issue a permit.

(e) When the possession of the premises at which an alarm system is maintained is transferred, the user obtaining possession of the property shall file an application for an alarm permit within thirty (30) days of obtaining possession of the property. Alarm permits are not transferable.

(f) Whenever the information provided on the application/renewal for annual permit for alarm system form changes, the alarm user will provide correct information to the alarm enforcement officer within thirty (30) days of the change. In addition, each year after the issuance of the permit, permit holders will receive from the city a form requesting updated information. The permit holder will complete and return this form to the alarm enforcement officer whether or not any of the requested information has changed. Failure to comply with this requirement constitutes a violation and may result in levy of a civil penalty.

Sec. 11-158. - Permit duration and renewal.

A permit shall expire one (1) year from the date of issuance, and shall be renewed for a new one-year period by the submission of an updated application and the payment of a permit renewal fee to the alarm enforcement officer.

Sec. 11-159. - Proper alarm system operation and maintenance.

(a) A permit holder shall:

  1. Maintain the premises and the alarm system in a manner that will minimize or eliminate false alarm notifications; and
  2. Provide the alarm company the permit number of the permit issued by the city because this number must be provided to the consolidated communications center by the alarm company in order to facilitate dispatch of law enforcement.
  3. Require a keyholder to respond at the alarm site within thirty (30) minutes when notified of an alarm activation. Failure of the permit holder or keyholder to respond within thirty (30) minutes, or the refusal of the permit holder or keyholder to respond to an activation is a violation of this section. The inability of either the alarm company's central station or the law enforcement communications center to notify a permit holder or keyholder after making a reasonable attempt to do so will be considered a failure to respond within thirty (30) minutes;
  4. An alarm user must obtain a new permit and pay any associated fees if there is a change in address or ownership of a business or residence.

(b) The permit holder shall adjust the mechanism or cause the mechanism to be adjusted so that an alarm signal will sound for no longer than fifteen (15) minutes after being activated.

(c) It shall be unlawful for a permit holder or any other person to activate an alarm system for the purpose of summoning law enforcement when no burglary, robbery or other crime dangerous to life or property is being committed or attempted on the premises, or otherwise to cause a false alarm.

Sec. 11-160. - Alarm company compliance.

An alarm company performing monitoring services shall comply with all applicable regulations within F.S. ch. 489, pt. II and:

  1. Provide to the consolidated communications center the name, address and telephone numbers of the alarm user or designee who can be called in a emergency twenty-four (24) hours per day.
  2. Contact an alarm user keyholder or other emergency contact who will respond to the alarm site within thirty (30) minutes when notified of an alarm activation.
  3. Provide the consolidated communications center the most current contact information for the alarm user.
  4. Prior to activation of an alarm system, provide instructions to the alarm user explaining the proper operation of the alarm system.
  5. Provide the alarm user written information as to how to obtain service from the alarm company for the alarm system.
  6. Attempt to verify by calling the alarm site and/or alarm user by telephone to determine whether an alarm signal is valid before requesting dispatch of law enforcement personnel. Telephone verification shall require, at a minimum, that a second phone call be made to a different number if the first attempt fails to reach an alarm user who can properly identify themselves to attempt to determine whether an alarm signal is valid. This verification requirement shall not apply in the case of a panic or robbery in progress alarm or in cases in which a crime in progress has been verified by video or audible means.
  7. Provide the alarm user registration number to the consolidated communications center in order to facilitate dispatch and/or cancelation.
  8. Communicate to the consolidated communications center any available information about the location of an alarm.
  9. Communicate to the consolidated communications center a cancelation as soon as possible following a determination that a response by law enforcement is unnecessary.
  10. The alarm company shall register all new alarm system users within five (5) business days following completion of installation of a new alarm system, and/or a new user initializing monitoring or registration of an existing system.

Sec. 11-161. - Fees for multiple false alarm notifications or civil penalties.

(a) It is hereby found and determined that three (3) or more false alarms within a permit year is excessive, constitutes a public nuisance and shall be unlawful. No fees shall be assessed for the first false alarm notification during each permit year. However, a warning notification shall be issued to the user notifying them of the false alarm, provisions contained within this article, and steps which can be taken to prevent false alarms in the future. Any subsequent alarms during that permit year period shall be assessed fees as follows:

Administrative Fee Schedule Per Permit Year

False alarm activations within a permit year will result as follows:

Number of False Alarms Fee Schedule
1-2 $0.00
3-5 $50.00
6-7 $100.00
8-9 $250.00
10+ $500.00

(b) If a cancelation occurs prior to law enforcement arriving at the scene, that incident shall not be considered a false alarm for purposes of levying of a civil penalty and no civil penalty will be assessed in the event of such a cancelation. Alarm activations caused by actual criminal offenses or with evidence of a criminal attempt shall not be counted as a false alarm activation.

(c) A civil penalty in the amount of one hundred dollars ($100.00) shall be assessed by the alarm enforcement officer against any alarm user for each violation of any provision within this article.

(d) The alarm enforcement officer shall mail to the alarm user permit holder notification of any failure to respond by the permit holder or keyholder, as well as invoices for any civil penalties or fees levied and assessed pursuant to this article.

Should any fee assessed pursuant to this article remain unpaid in excess of thirty (30) days from the date the charge is billed, the civil penalties or fees may be turned over to a collection agency. In such event, any collection fees incurred by

the city shall be payable by the permit holder of the premises in addition to the original fee. The permit holder shall also be responsible for any legal fees or costs incurred by the city in enforcement of this article.

(e) The failure of an alarm user to make payment of any civil penalties or fees assessed pursuant to this article for three (3) or more false alarms within a permit year within thirty (30) days from the date of the invoice, shall result in the discontinuance of law enforcement response to alarm signals that may occur at the premises described in the alarm user's permit until payment is received.

4/23/20: (e) not currently followed

Sec. 11-162. - Alarm user awareness class.

The alarm enforcement official will offer and maintain an online alarm user awareness class. The alarm user awareness class is free to attend and is designed to inform alarm users of the problems created by false alarms and educate alarm users as to how to help reduce false alarms. Any alarm user who has received an invoice for civil penalties or fees issued pursuant to this article, may attend the online alarm user awareness class. Upon successfully completing attendance of the online alarm user awareness class, up to one hundred dollars ($100.00) of one (1) civil penalty or fee assessed against said alarm user permit holder may be waived. An alarm user permit holder may not attend the online alarm user awareness class more than one (1) time per permit year and may not seek to have more than one hundred dollars ($100.00) waived per permit year.

Sec. 11-163. - Appeal.

(a) Any alarm company or alarm user permit holder receiving a notice of the assessment of civil penalties or fees pursuant to this article shall be entitled to appeal the order. The appeal should be made in writing to the alarm enforcement officer. An appeal must be in writing, setting forth the reasons for the appeal, and filed within fifteen (15) days of the receipt of the notice levying the civil penalties or fees. The appeal shall suspend levy of civil penalties or fees on said false alarm incident until a final order on said appeal has been entered.

(b) At the alarm enforcement officer's discretion, any appeal could be escalated to the special magistrate. The special magistrate shall review the facts and circumstances to determine whether the permit holder has shown good cause why the order should be withdrawn. The special magistrate, at his/her discretion, may conduct a formal hearing to consider evidence pertaining to the order. The special magistrate shall make a decision on the basis of a preponderance of the evidence presented at the hearing. A decision shall be rendered in writing by the special magistrate within thirty (30) days after the hearing is concluded. The special magistrate may affirm, reverse, or modify the action of the alarm enforcement officer. The decision of the special magistrate is final as to administrative remedies within the city.

(c) The alarm enforcement officer shall send the alarm company or permit holder the special magistrate's written decision. If the order of the alarm enforcement official is affirmed, the permit holder shall have five (5) business days following the receipt of the written decision to comply with the order.

Sec. 11-164. - Confidentiality.

In the interest of public safety, all information relating to the security systems for any privately owned or leased property in possession of the City of Sarasota, including its police department, or revealing the existence of such systems or information is confidential and exempt from public records disclosure. See F.S. § 281.301.

Sec. 11-165. - Penalties.

Any person violating the provisions of this article shall be subject to the penalties set forth in section 1-11, such penalties shall be cumulative to other administrative remedies provided for in this article.

Sec. 11-166. - Newly installed alarm system.

Any alarm user permit holder who operates a newly installed system will not be subject to the false alarm notification administrative fees set forth herein for a period of five (5) days following the system's activation. The installation date shall be documented by a person currently licensed to install security alarm systems or the date of purchase receipt for self-installed system. The exemptions set forth in this section shall not apply to any person who has failed to comply with section 11-157.

Sec. 11-167. - Use of licensed contractors.

A permit holder shall not contract or retain an alarm company which is not properly licensed pursuant to and in compliance with F.S. ch. 489.

Sec. 11-168. - Alarm system operations; limitations.

The city, its officers, employees and agents, shall not assume any duty or responsibility for the installation, maintenance, operation, repair or effectiveness of any privately owned alarm system, those duties or responsibilities being solely those of the permit holder of the alarm site.

(Ord. No. 17-5218, § 1, 7-3-17)

Secs. 11-169—11-199. - Reserved