Albuquerque Moving to Private Response for City Buildings
Test program will cost taxpayers $18,000
FRISCO, Texas (August 19, 2009) – Based on local media reports, the City of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has announced a test program that will pay a private response company to respond to alarm calls in roughly 40 public buildings. The test program is proposed for a six-month period and will cost the taxpayers $18,000.
The New Mexico Burglar and Fire Alarm Association would prefer to see the City fix the alarm systems and has volunteered to survey each of these buildings at no charge to the city. So far there has been no response by Albuquerque officials on this offer.
SIAC has previously reported that the worst category of alarm offenders by occupancy classification is public buildings and in particular public schools. Like many jurisdictions nationally, Albuquerque has an alarm ordinance that has been effective, but they exempt public buildings from having to comply with the provisions of the legislation.
Other cities have dealt with this problem in a more pro-active manner. Phoenix, Arizona, responds to public buildings. Instead of charging the city for this service, they make responsible alarm use a factor in evaluating city employees during normal performance reviews. Other cities have elected to charge themselves just as they do the public.
According to Ron Walters of SIAC, “since we know for a fact that user error is the cause of the vast majority of all dispatch requests, the most effective reduction programs always places the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the alarm system owners and users. This test program by the New Mexico authorities goes against proven and widely accepted best practices for alarm reduction and will not reduce dispatches. In fact it is actually counter-productive in the fight to reduce dispatches.”
The existing Albuquerque ordinance has been successful in not only reducing dispatches but also in collecting significant revenue for the city. These funds have gone to offset ordinance enforcement as well as to the general fund for other projects.
Anytime you exempt any category of alarm user, the abuse will continue until such time as they are made responsible. This is the most basic of all reasons for passing any legislation.
SIAC has attempted to contact all of the elected officials in Albuquerque but has heard nothing back.