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Communications Services

Alarm Unit

Frequently Asked Questions

- What is a false alarm?

- Why are false alarms a problem?

- What are common causes of false alarms?

- What should I do if I have a false alarm?

- How do I register my alarm system with the Toronto Police Service?

- How much does the Toronto Police Service invoice to a monitoring station for a false alarm response?

- What does the Toronto Police Service do with the monies collected?

- What do I do if my monitoring station has received an invoice for a false alarm fee but there was a break and enter?

- How do I appeal a false alarm fee (an alarm disposition)?

- Who would the police Service recommend as an alarm company?

- How do I contact the Alarm Unit?




Q: What is a false alarm?

A: A false alarm is a request, directly or indirectly, to provide police response to a signal from an alarm system indicating that criminal activity or imminent threat to personal safety has occurred where no such situation has taken place.

A false alarm includes:

  • an alarm system activated unnecessarily, improperly or for a purpose other than for which the alarm device or system was installed, carried or worn;
  • the alarm company or alarm system user testing an alarm system without the prior knowledge of Communications Services;
  • where no evidence exists of criminal activity or imminent threat to personal safety, which the system was installed/utilised to warn of;
  • an alarm system actually or apparently activated by mechanical failure, malfunction or faulty equipment;
  • an alarm system activated by negligence or carelessness;
  • an alarm system actually or apparently activated by atmospheric conditions, excessive vibrations or power failure.

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Q: Why are false alarms a problem?

A: Alarm systems were designed to protect lives and property. Properly installed, used and maintained alarm systems may be a real asset. When misused, they become a liability. Police, as well as security companies, spend a significant amount of time and money responding to false alarms. The system users experience the inconvenience of false alarms and the assessment of fees.

False alarms may:

  • delay police officers from responding to a real emergency;
  • lead neighbours to ignore your alarm system when it activates;
  • cause the system user to become reluctant to arm the system thus exposing the home or business to undetected theft or damage;
  • cost the system user to incur a false alarm fee.

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Q: What are common causes of false alarms?

A: The common causes of false alarms are as follows:

  • Inadequate training of system users (i.e. children, neighbours, cleaning personnel, real estate agents, guests, relatives, babysitters, contractors, etceteras)
  • Weak or low batteries
  • Open, unlocked or loose fitting doors and windows
  • Drafts caused by heating and air conditioning systems that move plants, curtains, balloons, signs, etceteras
  • Wandering pets

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Q: What should I do if I have a false alarm?

A: Should you experience a false alarm, you need to determine why the alarm activation took place. Contact your alarm company after each alarm activation, whether police attended or not. The alarm company should be able to provide you with information regarding the alarm activation.

If the cause of the alarm was USER ERROR, make sure that all users are properly trained on how to operate the system, this includes all third party users such as cleaning staff, dog walkers, contractors, etceteras. Contact your alarm company for training information.

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Q: How do I register my alarm system with the Toronto Police Service?

A: There is no registration requirement for an individual alarm system. All monitoring stations must be registered with the Toronto Police Service to receive a police response.

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Q: How much does the Toronto Police Service invoice to a monitoring station for a false alarm response?

A: The Toronto Police Service invoices the monitoring station a fee of $130.00 for any alarm event that has been accepted by a police field unit and is determined to be a false alarm.

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Q: What does the Toronto Police Service do with the monies collected?

A: All monies collected are used to offset the costs of police response to alarms within the City of Toronto, as approved by the Police Services Board.

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Q: What do I do if my monitoring station has received an invoice for a false alarm fee but there was a break and enter?

A: Should you discover that the premise has been broken into, contact the Toronto Police Service immediately via the non-emergency or emergency contact telephone numbers, as applicable. A call for service will be created and a police officer will attend. An occurrence report will be submitted by the police officer.

You should also contact the monitoring station and request that an Alarm Disposition Appeal Request be submitted to the Alarm Response Coordinator. It is recommended that any supporting documentation (i.e. invoices re repair) be submitted to support the appeal.

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Q: How do I appeal a false alarm fee (an alarm disposition)?

A: In the event that there is a dispute with respect to the disposition of an alarm event, contact the monitoring station and request that an Alarm Disposition Appeal Request be submitted. It is recommended that any supporting documentation be submitted to support the appeal.

Please note the Alarm Response Coordinator will only accept appeals that have been submitted in writing by the monitoring station.

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Q: Who would the Toronto Police Service recommend as an alarm company?

A: The Toronto Police Service will not provide a recommendation of one company over another. It is strongly recommended that you obtain three quotes from three different companies. A list of alarm companies registered under the ULC Residential Burglar Alarm Certificate Service Programme may be obtained from:

Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC)

Canadian Security Association (CANASA)

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