2019 Fort Worth Budget: Burglar alarms spike in fees for commercial enterprises

An influx in burglar alarm emergency calls from commercial locations, both false and real calls, prompted city officials to double alarm permit fees.

Residential alarm system. (Photo via nbtexas.org)

The annual fee increased from $50 to $100 starting October 1, the beginning of the city’s fiscal year.

“The idea is we’re spreading that cost among the general permit-holders,” said Terry Hanson, assistant director of the budget and analysis division.

Both commercial and residential owners also face weighted fees per false alarm claims: one to three false emergency calls are no charge, four to five are $50 per call, six to seven are $75 per call, and eight or more false emergency calls are $100, according to the City of Fort Worth website.

“I think it’s been pretty static,” Hanson said. “There hasn’t been an increase in permit number. I know as far as their activity in answering emergency calls, and false calls, there are more associated with commercial burglar alarms.”

Shep’s Place Off the Hook Seafood. (Photo via Oscar Hernandez.)

The City of Fort Worth hopes that increases in fees will improve overall safety and service in a real emergency, allowing officials to arrive on the scene quicker.

Local businesses like Shep’s Place, located on University Drive near TCU’s campus, recently installed a new alarm system from Hawk Security, including multiple cameras, a new keypad, and door alarms.

The co-owners, Jennifer and John Shepard, said they did not see a huge issue with the $40 to $60 cost per month from the security company, however, they are understanding to the increases in city fees, although they have not had an alarm tripped.

More suggestions on ways to avoid penalties for excessive false alarm calls or more information regarding alarm permits, visit the City of Fort Worth website under Commercial and Residential Burglar Alarm Permits or contact the Fort Worth Planning and Development Department, Alarms Unit, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 817-392-1300.