Township of Cheltenham, PA
Montgomery County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Cheltenham as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Fire prevention — See Ch. 151.
Noise — See Ch. 205, Art. III.
Security of buildings — See Ch. 234.
Smoking — See Ch. 246.
[Adopted 12-29-1977 by Ord. No. 1431 as Ch. 14, Art. IX of the Cheltenham Code]

§ 86-1 Eligible applicants.

Any person, firm or corporation living or doing business within the Township of Cheltenham shall be eligible to apply to the Board of Commissioners for permission to connect his or her premises located in the township with the emergency alarm equipment of the township located in the Township Police Administration Building, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.

§ 86-2 Requirements for connections.

No application for permission to connect shall be approved until the applicant agrees in writing to relieve and save harmless the Township of Cheltenham from:
A. 
Any expense in connection with the installation and maintenance of the facilities desired by applicant.
B. 
Any liability by reason of failure of any equipment.
C. 
Liability for any loss, injury or damage to persons or property caused wholly or in part by any act or acts or omission or omissions of the township or applicant or of any of their employees or agents.

§ 86-3 Permits; installation fee.

[Amended 11-21-1995 by Ord. No. 1846-95]
No permit shall be issued until the applicant pays an installation fee to be set by resolution of the Board of Commissioners.[1] A yearly rental fee, payable in advance, shall be paid by all persons, firms or corporations connected into the township alarm system and, upon failure to pay, upon due notice, the township shall disconnect the premises of the permittee from the township alarm system.
[1]
Editor's Note: For current fees, see Ch. A300, Fees.

§ 86-4 Discontinuance of connections.

The Township Commissioners of Cheltenham Township reserve the right, at any time in their sole discretion, to discontinue any or all connections to the township's emergency alarm equipment.
[Adopted 12-21-1993 as Ord. No. 1793-93]

§ 86-5 Policy.

The Board of Commissioners of the Township of Cheltenham has determined that the receipt of false alarms and false notifications to the Police and Fire Departments are detrimental to the welfare and safety of the citizens of Cheltenham Township and the members of the Police and Fire Departments, and that the receipt of such false alarms and notifications by the Police, Fire and EMS Departments detracts from the efficiency of these departments in discharging their responsibilities to the citizens of Cheltenham Township. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Board of Commissioners to safeguard and protect the citizens of Cheltenham Township, the members of the Police Department and the members of the Volunteer Fire Companies from such hazards or risks.

§ 86-6 Scope.

This Article governs the use, maintenance and installation of all alarm systems, requires permits, establishes fees, provides for punishment of violations and establishes a system of administration.

§ 86-7 Definitions.

As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ALARM BUSINESS
The business by any individual, partnership, corporation or other entity of selling, leasing, maintaining, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving or installing any alarm system or causing to be sold, leased, maintained, serviced, repaired, altered, replaced, moved or installed any alarm system in or on any building, structure or facility.
ALARM SYSTEM
Any assembly of mechanical or electrical equipment, designed to signal the occurrence of a holdup, burglary, fire, medical emergency or other activity requiring urgent attention and to which police, fire and/or EMS units are expected to respond.
ALARM USER
Any individual, partnership, association, syndicate, company, firm, trust, corporation, department, bureau, agency or other entity recognized by law as the subject of rights and duties in control of premises wherein an alarm system is maintained.
AUTOMATIC DIALING DEVICE
A device which is interconnected to a telephone line and is programmed to transmit a signal by a voice or coded message that indicates that an emergency condition exists and the need for an emergency response is required. When said device is programmed to notify the Cheltenham Township Police, Fire or EMS Departments, then, regardless of the type of automatic dialing device used, provisions shall be made to provide that the emergency message be received at two (2) different locations from which the receiving person/persons can notify the police of the address, owner, type of alarm and any other information required to secure the property.
CENTRAL STATION
A monitoring facility that accepts alarm signals from a premises and whose agents then contact Police, Fire or EMS Departments for assistance.
CHELTENHAM TOWNSHIP COMMUNICATION CENTER
That part of the Cheltenham Township Police Administration building that is responsible for receiving, processing, transferring and/or dispatching all incoming emergency notification or other calls for service throughout the township.
COORDINATOR(S)
The individual(s) designated by the Township Manager to maintain and enforce the provisions of this Article.
DESIGNATED TRUNK LINE
A telephone line leading into the Police/Fire Department communication center that is for the sole purpose of transmitting emergency calls from automatic dialing devices and central stations reporting the activation of an alarm system.
EMS
The abbreviation for "Emergency Medical Services."
FALSE ALARM
An emergency alarm activated by malice, inadvertence, negligence or unintentional acts to which the Cheltenham Township Police, Fire and/or EMS Departments respond, but which is not the result of an emergency and which is caused by a condition within the control of the person in possession of the premises where the device is located, including the malfunction of the alarm system. The definition excludes alarms caused by testing or repairing of telephone or electrical lines or equipment outside the premises; acts of God, such as earthquake, flood, windstorm, thunder or lightning; an attempted illegal entry of which there is visible evidence; the user acting under a sincere belief that a need exists to call the Police or Fire Department. If a doubt exists as to the cause of the "false alarm," the Township Manager, or his designate, shall make a decision regarding the circumstances of the activations. Multiple alarms received by the Cheltenham Township and/or Montgomery County Communication Center before the system can be deactivated within a reasonable period of time shall be considered a single alarm.
PERSON
An individual, partnership or corporate entity that owns property or a portion thereof serviced by an automatic alarm system.
RESTORATION FEE
A fee that is paid to the township by the alarm user whose permit has been revoked. The permit will be reinstated upon payment of the "restoration fee," provided that the Coordinator is satisfied that the user's system is properly serviced and deficiencies corrected.
YEAR
Three hundred sixty-five consecutive days preceding the date of the violation date.
[Added 8-15-2006 by Ord. No. 2114-06]

§ 86-8 Permit requirements.

[Amended 11-21-1995 by Ord. No. 1846-95]
A. 
Alarm user's permit required.
(1) 
Application for any existing alarm system must be filed with the township, accompanied by a permit fee, to be set forth from time to time by resolution of the Board of Commissioners,[1] within six (6) months after the effective date of this Article. Application for any new alarm system, together with a permit fee, to be set forth from time to time by resolution of the Board of Commissioners,[2] must be filed with the township prior to the use thereof. When the initial application is filed after July 1 of any calendar year, the fee shall be one-half (1/2) of the year's fee for the balance of the calendar year. Application for the yearly renewal of an alarm user's permit must be filed with the township with a permit fee, to be set forth from time to time by resolution of the Board of Commissioners, by January 30 of each calendar year. No refunds shall be made under any circumstances.
[1]
Editor's Note: For current fees, see Ch. A300, Fees.
[2]
Editor's Note: For current fees, see Ch. A300, Fees.
(2) 
The permit shall bear the signature of the Township Manager and be valid for the period specified on the same.
(3) 
The permit shall contain the address of the property, the name of the business (if applicable), the name of the owner, tenant or agent responsible for the property, the alarm company responsible for maintaining the system (if applicable), the type of alarm (burglar, holdup, fire, medical), how the alarm signal will be received by the communication center (tape, central station, etc.), at least two (2) alternative emergency numbers or whereabouts of person/persons to be contacted to secure the property and any additional information reasonably required by the Township Manager.
B. 
An alarm user who is over the age of sixty-five (65) and is the primary occupant of the residence, and if no business is conducted at the residence, may obtain a user's permit from the township according to Subsection A(1) with the payment of a permit fee to be set forth from time to time by resolution of the Board of Commissioners.[3]
[3]
Editor's Note: See Ch. A300, Fees.
C. 
A late charge, in an amount to be set forth from time to time by resolution of the Board of Commissioners,[4] will be charged to users who fail to obtain a permit within six (6) months after the effective date of this Article or within sixty (60) days the initial activation of an alarm system or who are sixty (60) days delinquent in renewing a permit.
[4]
Editor's Note: See Ch. A300, Fees.

§ 86-9 Exemptions.

A. 
An alarm user who installs a battery-powered (nine-volt, eleven-and-two-tenths-volt or similar voltage) alarm system or an electrically energized alarm system whose sole purpose is to notify the occupants of that location of an emergency situation is exempt from obtaining an alarm user's permit if all the following conditions exist:
(1) 
The alarm is not connected to any mechanical or electrical device that automatically notifies a person or agency outside that location that the alarm system is activated.
(2) 
The audible alarm does not sound outside the location (no external speakers).
(3) 
The internal signal emitted by the alarm does not exceed ninety (90) decibels.
(4) 
The internal alarm does not cause undue annoyance or alarm to occupants of adjoining premises.
B. 
Alarm users who are not required to pay a fee for an alarm user's permit or who are exempt from obtaining an alarm user's permit are subject to penalties as prescribed in § 86-11 of this Article.

§ 86-10 User instructions.

A. 
Every alarm business selling, leasing or furnishing to any user located within the Township of Cheltenham an alarm system which is installed on premises shall furnish the user with instructions that provide information to enable the user to operate the alarm system properly and to locate and obtain service for the alarm system at any time.
B. 
Every alarm business selling, leasing or furnishing to any user, or a user who privately installs an alarm system (except those covered in § 86-9) which is located on premises within the Township of Cheltenham shall:
(1) 
Be required to notify the communication center of alarm activations on the designated trunk line only.
(2) 
Be required to install only equipment that is listed by Underwriters' Laboratories, Inc. and or Factory Mutual as being electrically safe to the extent that such equipment is available and will meet the requirements for the alarm system. Wiring for the alarm system must conform to the National Electrical Code Standards.
(3) 
Be required to provide for each alarm system installed a standby battery power which shall automatically and immediately take over in the event of a power failure.
(4) 
Be required to install equipment in such a way as to neutralize electrical surges on the alarm system.
(5) 
Be required to provide an automatic audible alarm cutoff within fifteen (15) minutes of initial activation of any audible alarms installed to all alarm systems.
(6) 
Be required to disable the audible signal if the alarm is in a runaway condition (activates and resets at continuing and unspecified periods).
(7) 
Be required to deactivate the alarm system within a reasonable period of time when multiple alarms are received (runaway condition). Three (3) hours would be a reasonable time limit.
(8) 
Be required to notify a person/agency who can secure the alarm system or premises if necessary.
(9) 
Be required to demonstrate compliance with installation requirements of this Article if requested by the Township Manager or his designate.
(10) 
Be required to notify Cheltenham Township Communication Center prior to conducting any tests upon any alarm system whereupon such tests would cause emergency information to be received by the Police, Fire or EMS Departments.
C. 
Systems installed as of the effective date of this Article must comply with Subsections B(2), (3), (4) and (5) above only after the system's alarm is activated and/or is not reset because of the failure to have the required equipment.
D. 
Penalties for violations of this section, User instructions, of this Article are contained in § 86-11, Violations and penalties.
E. 
Failure or refusal of notified parties to secure the alarm system or premises will hold the Township of Cheltenham harmless from any condition that may arise at the premises that would have otherwise been prevented by a properly maintained alarm system or a properly secured premises.
F. 
Fire alarm systems shall incorporate alarm verification and comply to National Fire Protection Association Codes for the installation and maintenance of fire alarm systems and all other related provisions of the Cheltenham Township Ordinance 1759-92, regulation fire alarm systems.
G. 
All burglary or intrusion alarm systems that have central monitoring shall have central monitoring verification calls made to the alarm site, prior to alarm monitoring personnel contacting a law enforcement agency for alarm dispatch as per the following:
[Added 8-15-2006 by Ord. No. 2114-06]
(1) 
Call 1. The monitoring company shall attempt telephone verification to the protected premises after receipt of the alarm signal.
(2) 
Call 2. If a monitoring facility operator gets a busy signal or no answer to the first call to the protected premises, a second call or calls shall be made to an alternate phone number such as cellular, work or second number at the protected premises.
(3) 
Answering machine. If the first or second call reaches an answering machine, a message should be left clearly stating that it is the alarm company calling and leaving necessary information for the alarm user to promptly contact the monitoring facility.
(4) 
Person on premises without proper code. If the operator reaches the protected premises on the first or second call and the person answering the phone does not have the proper pass code, then the operator shall attempt to make a three-way call with the premises person retained as a party to the call. The three-way call shall attempt to reach others on the call list to verify the authenticity of the person on the protected premises. If this process fails to resolve the issue then the operator should proceed to notify the dispatch authority.
(5) 
Failure by the alarm system contractor or alarm monitoring company to make the verification calls may result in a fine of $600.

§ 86-11 Violations and penalties.

A. 
Burglar, holdup, panic or medical alert alarms. Any alarm user in a building where an alarm system has been installed or is maintained in violation of the provisions of this article or any alarm business which has installed an alarm system in violation of any of the provisions of this article shall, upon the conviction thereof by any Magisterial District Judge, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $50 for the first offense and not less than $150 but not more than $600 for the second and any subsequent violations, together with the costs of prosecution. In default of the payment of any fine, the defendant may be sentenced to jail for a period not exceeding 30 days.
[Amended 8-15-2006 by Ord. No. 2114-06]
B. 
False alarms; permit revocations.
(1) 
If the Cheltenham Township Police Department records more than three (3) false alarms within a period of a year for any alarm system, with the exception of fire alarms, the following procedures will apply:
(a) 
The Coordinator shall notify the alarm user and the alarm business providing service or inspection to the user by certified mail of such fact and direct that the user submit a report to the Coordinator within 15 days after receipt of the notice describing actions taken or to be taken to discover and eliminate the cause of the false alarms.
(b) 
If the alarm user submits a report as directed and the Coordinator determines that the action taken or to be taken will substantially reduce the likelihood of false alarms, no further action will be taken at this time, but if any more false alarms occur within the year from each individual alarm, penalties would be forthcoming.
[Amended 8-15-2006 by Ord. No. 2114-06]
(c) 
If no report is submitted or if the Coordinator determines that the action taken or to be taken will not substantially reduce the likelihood of false alarms, the permit holder will be subject to penalties set forth in Subsection A of this section.
(d) 
Alarm users not required to pay a fee for a user's permit according to §§ 86-8B and 86-9A are liable and subject to all provisions of this subsection.
(e) 
Alarm users not required to obtain a user's permit according to § 86-9 are liable for and subject to the following provisions of Subsection B, False alarms; permit revocations:
[1] 
All provisions of Subsection B(1)(a).
[2] 
The following portions of Subsection B(1)(b):
[a] 
The alarm user must submit a report to the Coordinator.
[b] 
If no report is submitted or the Coordinator determines that the action taken will not substantially reduce the likelihood of false alarms, the alarm user would be subject to fines and penalties as set forth in Subsection A of this section.
[c] 
The alarm user will be notified by certified mail that he/she has forfeited the nonpermit status and must apply for a permit. Failure to obtain the permit will make the alarm user liable for fines and costs for failure to have a permit.
(2) 
An alarm user whose permit is revoked will have to pay a fee to be set forth from time to time by resolution of the Board of Commissioners to have the permit restored to active status.[1] The Coordinator must be satisfied that the user's system is properly serviced and deficiencies have been corrected before approving the restoration of the permit.
[Amended 11-21-1995 by Ord. No. 1846-95]
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. A300, Fees.
(3) 
After a permit is restored to active status, the alarm user will again be subject to the provisions of this section, pertaining to permit revocation. The alarm user permit is not again subject to revocation until more than five false alarms occur.
C. 
Fire alarms.
(1) 
Service charge for false alarms. The person in possession of the premises where an automatic protection device is in use shall be assessed and shall pay to the township a service charge of $50 for the second false alarm originating from the premises, during the one-year period following the first alarm, and a service charge of $150 for each subsequent false alarm during the one-year period from the date of the first alarm. In an apartment building or structure with multiple occupancies, the assessment shall be charged to the person (occupant) of the occupied portion of the building where said alarm is initiated. When the false alarm is the result of inadequate precautions to prevent a false alarm during building construction, maintenance or repairs, a service charge of $150 will be assessed against the person in possession of the occupied portion of the building and who is responsible for the false alarm, regardless of whether such false alarm is the first or second alarm originating from the business or premises in the calender year.
(2) 
Testing automatic protection devices. No person shall conduct any test or demonstration of an automatic protection device without first notifying the Cheltenham Township Communication Center. If a test or demonstration of an automatic protection device results in a false alarm due to lack of notification, a service charge of one hundred fifty dollars ($150.) will be assessed against the person responsible for the test or demonstration, regardless of whether such false alarm is the first or second alarm originating from the business or premises in the calender year.
D. 
Failure to have a permit. Any alarm user required to have a permit who operates an alarm system with no permit or a revoked permit will be in violation and subject to pay a fine and costs of not more than $600 per false alarm occurrence.
[Amended 11-21-1995 by Ord. No. 1846-95]