Alarm Response & Permits

Alarms Investigation Office

In 2022, the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) responded to more than 62,000 false alarm calls. This means that there is one false alarm every 8 minutes (91% of all burglar alarms are false alarms). The City of San Antonio has limited public safety resources and must use them wisely. To ensure these resources are responding to true emergencies, SAPD continuously works with the alarm industry and users to reduce the number of false alarms.

Alarm System Permitting Information

All residents and businesses using or operating a burglar, panic and/or fire alarm system located within the City of San Antonio are legally required to have a permit for their alarm system. The City of San Antonio Code of Ordinances Chapter 25, Article IV, regulates the operation of alarm systems within the City. This also covers dialers that are programmed to transmit automatic alarm notifications directly to SAPD. Security and fire alarm systems within the City limits must be permitted through the SAPD’s Alarm Investigations Office (AIO). 

SAPD works with alarm companies, installation teams, and monitoring companies to educate residents about permitting requirements in the City. Ultimately though, it is the responsibility of the system owner to get the required permits for their alarm systems. If SAPD receives an alarm notification from an alarm system that does not have a valid permit, a fee will be charged for each alarm notification.  

The alarm user is responsible for:

  • Notifying the AIO when the alarm system is installed. Newly activated alarm users are required to report the installation of the alarm system within 12 hours of completion. 
  • Providing the alarm address location, along with the name and mailing address of the residential permit holder. For commercial permits, they must also provide the primary point of contact.

Submit this information anytime by leaving a voicemail at 210-207-8282. Individuals and businesses who provide this information over the phone or in person are exempt from the permit requirement for up to four calendar days while their permit is being issued.    

Multiple Permit Information:

  • Each alarm system must have a separate alarm permit. If your location has multiple structures monitored by individual alarm system panels, then you are required to have a permit for each one. 
  • Alarm permits are not transferable to any other person, premise, alarm system, or alarm subscriber. 
  • Residential locations are not required to have two permits for police and fire. Their police permit will cover both fire and police calls. Commercial locations are required to have individual permits for police and fire alarms systems. 
  • If your location has multiple suites that are leased out, the building manager will typically get a permit for the building’s fire alarm system. Each tenant will then be responsible for police alarm permits if they have additional alarm systems (such as burglar, panic, or robbery alarms). Ask the building manager to confirm that the fire permit is not the tenant’s responsibility. 
  • Locations operating a smoke detector that is not connected to an alarm panel are not required to have a permit. 
  • Residential and commercial locations that only have self-monitoring cameras are not required to have a permit. 

Fees & Penalties

Non-Registered Alarm Systems and Excessive False Alarms

It is a city ordinance violation to operate an alarm system without a valid permit. Fees are charged for non-registered (unpermitted) false alarms:

Type of False Alarm Fee
Unpermitted false alarm, residential $75
Unpermitted false alarm, commercial $125
Unpermitted false fire alarm, residential or commercial $125

NOTE: All outstanding false alarm fees must be paid before a new or renewal permit will be issued.

Fees are associated with calls for both permitted and unpermitted response requests. Locations that have an active alarm permit are subject to service fees for multiple false alarm calls in a 12-month period. These fees help cover the operational costs of public safety resources that are used while responding to excessive false alarms.

A Request for Review form can be submitted for false alarm fines attached to an active alarm permit. All required documentation will be reviewed, and investigators will determine if any false alarm fines will be waived. Contact the Alarms Investigation Office for qualifying details.

False Alarm Penalties (Active Permitted Locations)

False Burglar Alarms (per each occurrence) Fee
1 – 3 false burglar alarms NO FEE
4 – 5 false burglar alarms $50
6 – 7 false burglar alarms $75
8 or more burglar alarms  $100
Robbery/Holdup/Panic/Duress (silent alarm) Fee
1 call NO FEE
2 calls $200
3 calls $300
4 calls $400
5 or more calls $500
False Fire Alarm Activation Fee
1 call NO FEE
2 – 4 calls $125
5 – 10 calls $250
10 or more calls  $500
Canceled Fire Alarm Activation
(charged upon notification)
1 call NO FEE
2 – 4 calls $50
5 – 10 calls $125
10 or more calls $250

The SAPD will respond to all alarm calls regardless of permit status (active or unpermitted), or any outstanding fines or fees. In the case of such violations, additional fees and fines will be charged. If the alarm site does not have a permit (through non-registration or through having been revoked) the alarm system user will be fined between $300 and $500. This will be charged for each separate occurrence.

Tips on Preventing False Alarms

The permit holder is required to maintain the alarm site to ensure proper operation or use of the alarm system. The permit holder is also required to ensure that the alarm system is maintained in a way that will minimize false alarm occurrences.

  • Ensure that the alarm system installed is properly maintained. This includes routine testing, battery replacement and maintenance.
  • Work with your service provider and/or monitoring company whenever you experience system malfunctions.
  • Know your system. If you have questions or concerns about your system, contact your service provider and/or monitoring company.
  • Be responsible with your system. If you give someone keys to your home or business, train them to operate your alarm.