The Lee County Sheriff's Office responds to nearly 18,000 false alarms annually. When an alarm call is received, two law enforcement units are dispatched. Responding to false alarms consumes thousands of personnel hours at a high cost to taxpayers. Unfounded alarm calls also reduce the effectiveness of LCSO deputies and undermine their ability to respond to more critical calls.
The False Alarm Reduction Unit (FARU) is responsible for enforcing Lee County Ordinance 03-09 intended to regulate and reduce the number of false alarms that Sheriff’s Office deputies must investigate within the city of Bonita Springs, the Town of Fort Myers Beach and unincorporated areas of Lee County.
Those who use alarms should become familiar with the causes and prevention of false alarms and learn about the county ordinance to successfully partner with LCSO in this reduction program. Per the ordinance, all homeowners and business owners with alarm systems must ensure the following:
- Your alarm is registered;
- A current list of at least two emergency contacts is on file with FARU;
- You inform FARU within 15 days of any change regarding your alarm company, mailing address or emergency contact information;
- Your house numbers are easily visible from the street, day and night;
- You notify FARU in writing when there is a change in ownership of the property;
- Must pay the imposed false alarm fees unless successfully appealed.
Alarm installers/monitoring service providers also have specific responsibilities, including:
- Register annually with FARU;
- Register and obtain a permit from FARU for each alarm system prior to putting the alarm system into service;
- Have a permit number to work on any alarm system;
- Provide all alarm users with full training on the alarm system;
- Inform the alarm user of the requirements of the alarm ordinance;
- Certify that this training and information has been provided and that the alarm system meets or exceeds installation standards. This certification will be provided in writing on an installation certification;
- Attempt to verify most alarms before requesting emergency dispatch. Fines will not be charged for false alarm calls canceled prior to the arrival of emergency responders;
- Notify FARU in writing whenever there is a change in ownership.
Every legally permitted alarm is allowed one "free" false alarm within any consecutive 12-month period. For permitted alarms, fines are imposed beginning with the second false alarm within the 12-month period and increase from $25 to $400 for nine or more. Ten or more false alarms received by law enforcement for the same site within a permit year may cause the alarm permit to be revoked.
The alarm registration form can be downloaded here. FARU is a member of the False Alarm Reduction Association and the Alarm Association of Florida and complies with guidelines to reduce false dispatches. Call (239) 477-1244 for more information.