False Alarm Reduction Unit

Security alarm systems serve as useful deterrents to crime. The presence of an alarm system not only reduces your chance of being burglarized but can minimize any loss in the event of a burglary.

In 2002, the City of Cincinnati Police Department responded to more than 30,000 alarm calls. More than 80% of the calls were determined to be false alarms. A typical response to an alarm involves two police officers and takes 20 to 30 minutes each.

With more 24,000 false alarms annually, the cost to the Police Department and you, the taxpayer, was over $500,000 per year. This is time and money that could be better utilized making Cincinnati a safer and more enjoyable community in which to live.

What Is A False Alarm?

Chapter 807 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code defines a false alarm as "Any alarm activation or signal that alerts a government organization which is not the result of an actual or threatened emergency requiring their immediate response." This simply means that if a police officer responds to an alarm signal and, after investigation, finds no evidence of criminal activity, the officer will designate the alarm as a false alarm.

How The Law Works

Every alarm system user (both residential and non-residential) must register with the False Alarm Reduction Unit. Alarm registrations are specific to the Alarm Location (address) and Alarm User (name). These registrations are not transferable. For residential alarm users the fee is $50.00 biennial and for non-residential alarm users the fee is $100.00 biennial.  The full amount is due upon registration.  Please make check payable to the “City of Cincinnati”.

Residential Form  Non-Residential Form

The False Alarm Reduction Unit must collect a fee from the alarm user for false alarms. For a registered alarm system the fees begin with the third false alarm during a 365 day period. The fees range from $50.00 to $800.00. The penalty for operating an unregistered alarm system is $100.00. All false alarms on an unregistered system are $800 each.

Fee For Registered Systems

(Based on a 365-day period)

Amount Per Response

  • 1st: None
  • 2nd: None
  • 3rd: $50*
  • 4th: $75
  • 5th: $100
  • 6th: $150
  • 7th: $200
  • 8th: $300
  • 9th: $400
  • 10th: $500
  • 11th or more: $800

*Fee may be waived if user attends an Alarm User Awareness School offered by the Cincinnati Law Department

Alarm School

Anyone may register to attend the Alarm User Awareness School offered by the Law Department free of charge. The school gives valuable information on the prevention of false alarms and understanding your alarm system. For registration information, contact the FARU at (513) 352-1272.


Any alarm user may appeal the fee charged by the FARU for a false alarm. The appeal must be submitted in writing within 30 days of notification of the assessment and must include a $25 administrative fee. The fee is fully refundable if the appeal is upheld.

Reduce The Chance Of A False Alarm

On a monthly basis:

  • Check door and window contacts
  • If your system includes window screens, check the clips and/or fasteners.
  • Are the contact switches clean and securely mounted? Window cleaning can loosen or dislodge magnets.
  • The areas around smoke detectors and motion sensors should be inspected for dust, spider webs and insects. Interior cleaning of these devices should be done by the alarm company.

Follow your alarm company’s testing schedule. Always call your alarm company before conducting a test and after the test is completed.

Always test your alarm system after any telephone work is completed. A change in wiring could prevent your system from contacting the monitoring station.

Advise your alarm company and the FARU of any change in telephone numbers at home or at work. Is the contact list you provided the Alarm Company and FARU up to date?