[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Committee of the Township of Readington as 12-17-1990 by Ord. No. 287-90. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to alleviate conditions which lead to an unnecessary drain on the manpower, time, space, facilities and finances of the Township of Readington and its Police Department and fire companies and to deterioration in the quality of services to persons subscribing to alarm services. There have been a substantial number of false alarms associated with alarm systems which have been installed within the township. The number of false alarms has resulted in a situation which, if not remedied, will affect the general health, safety and welfare of the community and inhibit the response of the Police Department and fire companies in a true emergency. The public interest therefore requires the enactment of rules, regulations, standards and procedures to regulate and control alarm systems installed within the township.
The provisions of this chapter shall apply to any person or alarm business, other than the township, who operates, maintains or owns any alarm device producing a visual or audible sign of an emergency and designed to summon the Police Department or fire companies or other municipal agencies to any location in response to any type of alarm signal. The terms of this chapter shall in no way prohibit alarm companies from providing services by private source to other offices within or without the township; however, this chapter shall apply to alarm companies providing services by private source to other companies within or without the township if the purpose of the furnishing of such service is to summon the Police or fire companies of Readington Township to any location in response to any type of alarm signal.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- ALARM BUSINESS
- Any business operated by a person, partnership or corporation, for profit, which engages in the activity of altering, installing, leasing, maintaining, repairing, replacing, selling, servicing or responding to a fire or burglar alarm system or which causes any of these activities to take place.
- ALARM DEVICE
- Any type of alarm-activating equipment which provides warning of intrusion, fire, smoke, burglary, flood or like peril.
- ALARM SYSTEM
- The installation in one or more commercial or residential buildings of one or more alarm devices for the express purpose of getting visual and/or audible warnings of an emergency such as intrusion, fire, smoke, burglary, flood or like peril.
- ALARM USER
- Any person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization of any kind in possession or control of any building, structure or facility wherein an alarm device or system is maintained, including but not limited to owners, tenants, sublessees, etc.
- CHIEF OF POLICE
- The Chief of Police of the Township of Readington Police Department or his designated representative.
- DESIGNATED REPRESENTATIVE
- The designee of the Chief of Police or Fire Official who performs a function required or permitted by this chapter under the supervision of the Chief of Police or Fire Official.
- DIAL ALARM
- Any type of alarm system utilizing telephone lines, transmitting an alarm directly through to the police switchboard, answering service or alarm company console providing warning of intrusion, fire or other peril.
- EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBER
- The primary phone number advertised to the public for requesting emergency services.
- FALSE ALARM
- Any alarm or signal of alarm actuated by inadvertence, negligence, intentional or unintentional acts of a person, domestic animal and/or household pet other than an intruder, and including alarms caused by mechanical failure, malfunction or improper installation of the alarm system and related equipment. It shall further include improper adjustment and/or sensitivity or failure to suppress false indications due to short flashes of light, wind, noises, rattling or vibrations of doors or other forces. "False alarm" shall not include actuations caused by power or phone line interruptions where such interruptions have been reported to the Police Department or fire companies.
- FIRE ALARM EQUIPMENT
- Equipment which includes the following:
- FIRE OFFICIAL
- The Fire Official of the Township of Readington or his designated representative. The Fire Official serves concurrently as Fire Subcode Official.
- FIRE SERVICE
- The authorized township fire companies providing fire protection and suppression in the Township of Readington.
- INDEPENDENT SMOKE DETECTOR
- A device giving an audible alarm indicating smoke and/or fire within the structure and not connected to an alarm system or to any internal sounding device outside the structure.
- The person who holds the license to install, operate and maintain the alarm/alarm console pursuant to the provisions of this chapter.
- LOCAL ALARM
- Any alarm system which, when activated, produces a signal not connected to an alarm console or a communication switchboard, including but not limited to business burglar alarms, actuating bell or other sound-generating devices and/or light-emitting devices providing warning of intrusion or other peril. The term "local alarm" shall not include an alarm system solely connected to a registered motor vehicle, nor shall the term include equipment designed to signal solely within a building or series of buildings and which does not emit signals, visible or audible, to persons outside such building or buildings, i.e., independent smoke detector.
- PERMITTEE or REGISTRANT
- Any person who owns an alarm device who has obtained a permit according to the provisions of this chapter.
- Any natural person or individual or any firm, partnership, association, limited partnership, sole proprietorship, corporation or any other business entity.
No person shall install, operate, connect or maintain or cause to be installed, connected, operated or maintained any police, burglary, fire, automatic emergency or other alarm equipment, device or system for the purpose of transmitting a visual, audible or electronic signal or alarm or reporting a signal or alarm to the attention of the Police Department or fire companies for the purposes of summoning the Police Department, fire companies or any other municipal agency or person obtaining some response thereto without first having registered such system in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. Registration of the system occurs when all information contained on the registration statement is deemed complete. The Police Department shall provide a copy of all approved registration forms to the Township Fire Official.
No person shall install, connect, operate or maintain or cause to be installed, connected, operated or maintained any alarm system reporting to any commercial central alarm receiving station which will result in the central alarm receiving station requesting the Police Department and/or fire companies to respond to any location within the Township of Readington in response to signals or transmissions from an intrusion or fire alarm system without first having registered the system with the Chief of Police as hereinafter provided.
All persons required under this chapter to complete a registration form shall make application to the Police Department on the form provided therefor, which application shall be accompanied by a processing fee of $25. Changes in equipment, information or re-registration of new owners or users will require a fee of $25. Upon payment of the fee and filing of the registration statement, two decals will be issued to the registrant. These decals shall be placed in plain view near the front/main entrance and the rear/secondary entrance of the registrant's residence. Registration fees for present subscribers to an existing alarm system in place on or before the effective date of this chapter shall be waived.
The application shall contain:
The name, address and telephone number of the applicant.
The name, address and telephone number of the owner, occupant or user of the property upon which the alarm system is installed.
The location of the device, alarm equipment or system.
The name, address and telephone number of the installer.
The type of device, alarm equipment or system.
The list of names, addresses and telephone numbers of persons to be contacted in the event of an alarm or an emergency situation as determined by the Police Department and fire companies and other information which may be required by the Chief of Police.
The names, addresses and twenty-four-hour telephone number of the person(s) or company maintaining the system.
The person(s) responsible to remit fees or assessed fines under the provisions of this chapter.
Registration shall not be transferred or assigned in any manner.
No further renewal or registration shall be required unless and until there is a material change in the information previously submitted with respect to any alarm system or a change in the ownership or tenancy of the affected property. In such event, it shall be the duty of the owner, tenant and/or user of the alarm system, within 10 days of such material change, to file a supplemental or revised registration statement containing accurate and current information. Failure to comply with this section shall be deemed a violation hereof and shall subject the violator to the penalties contained herein.
The registration statement shall be accepted upon the expressed condition that the registrant shall indemnify and hold the Township of Readington or its agents or employees harmless from and on account of any and all damages or liability arising out the activities of the registrant or its alarm contractor related to the alarm equipment, device or system or the operation and maintenance of the same, which shall be the sole responsibility of the person having had the same installed or connected.
Each separate building, store, premises, place or location having an alarm system shall require a separate registration, regardless of common ownership thereof.
Excluded from the registration provisions of this section shall be independent smoke detectors that do not emit an audible or visible signal outside of the structure.
Any alarm business and/or property owner having knowledge of the sale of a/his residence or change of tenants of a/his leased property, respectively, shall be responsible for notifying the Police Department and fire companies when the property is sold or the tenants changed. The alarm business or property owner shall notify the Police Department and fire companies of the name of the new owner or tenant whether or not the new tenant or new owner is continuing to have an alarm device or system on the property.
All information submitted in compliance with this chapter shall be held in the strictest confidence and shall be deemed a record exempt from public disclosure pursuant to New Jersey Statutes. Any violation of confidentiality shall be deemed a violation of this chapter.
Each alarm system as defined herein and installed after the effective date of this chapter shall utilize discrete circuitry for multipurpose alarm systems to ensure appropriate emergency response.
Any alarm system which requires for its operation electricity supplied by a public utility may be equipped with a battery rendering it operable in the event of a power outage if so desired by the property owner. Such a battery backup shall be required for any alarm system which will trigger itself automatically in the event of a power outage.
Every alarm system must be provided with a device which will shut the alarm off after 30 minutes of activation.
Every burglar alarm system shall be equipped with a time delay of at least 15 seconds, which may include an audible signal of the same length of time, said time delay to be designed to prevent accidental activation of the system. The fifteen-second audible signal, if utilized, shall be audible only within the structure and not externally.
No alarm system may be connected directly or indirectly to the Township Police Department or fire companies.
No person shall install, cause to be installed or permit to be installed any alarm device, by whatever name known, which automatically selects a telephone line dedicated to the Police Department or fire companies or its designee for the purpose of playing a recorded message to report any emergency. All dial alarm systems shall be programmed to dial Hunterdon County Communications at (201) 782-0911.
All dial alarms shall be capable of being disconnected in the event of a false alarm.
The Police Department, fire companies or other public departments or officials shall not be responsible in any way for the resetting or maintenance of any alarm system.
No alarm business or persons owning, using or possessing an alarm system shall cause or permit the giving of repeated false alarms, for test purposes or otherwise, whether intentional, accidental or otherwise. Owners/operators of such alarms shall be governed by the false alarm procedures and penalties set forth in this chapter.
The contents of a dial alarm message shall be clear and intelligible and in the format approved by the Chief of Police or Fire Official. No such message shall be transmitted more than two times as a result of a single stimulus of the mechanism. Messages shall not exceed 15 seconds and the time gap between each shall not exceed 10 seconds.
The sensory mechanism of dial alarms shall be adjusted so as to suppress false indications and not be actuated by impulses due to short flashes of light, wind, noises, rattling or vibration of doors or other forces unrelated to general alarms.
Permits for local alarm systems shall not be issued to buildings which are not owner-occupied prior to receipt by the Chief of Police of satisfactory proof that the occupant of the building has been notified of the existence of such alarm system or of the intent to install a local alarm system and the provisions of this chapter.
By installing an alarm system and registering the same with the Township of Readington, each registrant agrees to identify and hold harmless the Township of Readington, the Police Department and the mutual aid volunteer fire companies of Readington Township and mutual aid companies, its agents, servants and employees from and against any and all claims, suits, damages, costs, losses and expenses and to release the Township of Readington, the Police Department and the mutual aid volunteer fire companies of Readington Township and mutual aid companies, its agents, servants and employees from any and all liability or damages in any way resulting from or arising out of or connected with the installation, operation or maintenance of an alarm system or any act or omission connected therewith.
Any registration of alarm equipment under the provisions of this chapter may be suspended or revoked by the Chief of Police or Fire Official or his designee for any violation of or failure to comply with the provisions of this chapter, including the following:
The registrant, his agent or employee willfully failed and/or did not comply with the request by the Police Department to proceed immediately to the location of permittee's alarm to render necessary services to disarm the same.
The registrant, his agents or employees knowingly installed or maintained a faulty alarm device. An inordinate number of false alarms within a short duration of time shall be prima facie evidence that such alarm device is knowingly installed or maintained in a faulty manner.
No registration shall be revoked or suspended without giving the registrant 15 days' notice in writing of such action and an opportunity to show cause before the Chief of Police, Fire Official or their designee why such action shall not be taken. Any person aggrieved by the actions or determination of the Chief of Police, Fire Official or their designee and a denial of a registration or the suspension or revocation of any registration provided for in this chapter may be appealed to the Township Committee of the Township of Readington within five days of receiving such notice of the denial of the registration or revocation of the registration by filing notice of appeal with the Township Clerk. Any revocation or suspension of an alarm registration by the Chief of Police, Fire Official or their designee shall not prevent prosecution in Municipal Court for the violation of any provision of this chapter.
Subject to the provisions of § 65-6 hereof, alarm devices which automatically use a pretaped or prerecorded verbal message or other type of message which alerts the Police Department or fire companies of the Township of Readington that an emergency exists or that its services are needed through the use of these systems and which automatically dials any telephone number to obtain such services are hereby prohibited.
All components of alarm systems, alarm devices and local alarms shall be maintained by the owners or users thereof in good condition and repair. When evidence exists that there has been a failure by such owners or users to properly maintain an alarm device, the Chief of Police or Fire Official or their designee is authorized to demand that such devices be disconnected until such time as appropriate repairs and/or modifications are made.
When evidence exists that an alarm company, and not the owner or user, is responsible for the maintenance of an alarm system or an alarm device or that said alarm company has failed to properly maintain said system, device or alarm after reasonable requests to do so by the owner or user, such alarm company shall be subject to the provisions of § 65-10 herein.
When evidence exists that an independent contractor, subcontractor or employee of the owner or user, and not the owner or user, is responsible for false alarms by reason of negligent disregard of warnings indicating an alarm failure, such independent contractor, subcontractor or employee shall be subject to the provisions of §§ 65-10 and 65-11 hereof.
In the case of false alarms which summon the Police Department or fire companies to respond, the Chief of Police or Fire Official, as appropriate, shall cause an investigation to be made and shall keep a record of such false alarms on file.
In the event of the occurrence of three false alarms in a twelve-month period, the registrant shall, within three days after written request to do so from the Chief of Police or Fire Official, complete a written report setting forth the cause or causes of the false alarm, the corrective action taken and a statement as to whether the alarm system has been inspected and/or serviced by an alarm system company and such other information as the Chief of Police and Fire Official may reasonably require.
Owners and/or users of alarm systems shall be subject to the following minimum fine schedule for false alarms:
For the first, second and third false alarms in any twelve-month period, a warning by the Chief of Police or Fire Official or their designee shall be issued.
For the fourth false alarm in the same twelve-month period, a minimum fine of $25 per occurrence shall be paid to the Township of Readington.
For the fifth to tenth false alarm in any twelve-month period, a fine of $75 per occurrence shall be paid to the Township of Readington.
After the occurrence of the tenth false alarm in a twelve-month period, a fine of $100 per occurrence shall be assessed against the registrant and paid to the Township of Readington.
Service fees shall be payable to the Township of Readington within 30 days of written notice of the fourth and subsequent false alarms. The calculations of the number of false alarms shall be without regard to whether the false alarms involved intrusion alarms or fire alarms.
Where the investigation of the Police Department or fire companies discloses a continued abuse of the privilege and a disregard by the registrant for taking remedial steps to avoid such false alarms, the Township of Readington reserves the right to require disconnection of the alarm system for a limited or permanent time by the Chief of Police, Fire Official or their designee, provided that no such registration shall be revoked or suspended without giving the registrant an opportunity to show cause before the Chief of Police, Fire Official or their designees why such actions shall not be taken.
The determination of the Chief of Police or the Fire Official in such matters shall be based upon the effect on the general public health, safety and welfare of the continued use/abuse of the alarm system in question.
Failure to remit the required service fee or to comply with the Chief of Police or Fire Official's determination that a disconnection is required shall subject the registrant to the penalties set forth herein. Each and every day the registrant fails to comply with the provisions of this chapter shall constitute a separate and continuing offense. Any registrant shall, by completion of the registration form, be deemed to have consented to an inspection of the premises on which said alarm devices are installed at reasonable hours by the Chief of Police or his designated representative.
The provisions of this chapter and any violations hereof are enforceable by the Chief of Police or Fire Official or their designee in the Municipal Court of the Township of Readington.
Any person who fails to register an alarm system as required by this chapter is subject to a minimum fine of $50 and a maximum fine of $500 for each and every violation.
Any owner or user of an alarm system who installs such system which is not in compliance with this chapter is subject to a minimum fine of $50. Additionally, said owner or user may be required to remove such alarm system.
Any individual who intentionally, willfully or maliciously destroys or injures any of the post, lawn boxes or alarm apparatus owned by the Township of Readington or intentionally, willfully or maliciously interferes with the operation of the same or with any part thereof or who hinders or impedes any of the operations intended to be accomplished thereby shall, upon a conviction thereof, be imprisoned in the County Jail for a term not exceeding 90 days and/or a period of community service or shall forfeit and pay a fine not exceeding $500 dollars, or both. Any person convicted of a violation of this subsection may, in the discretion of the Municipal Judge, be imprisoned in the County Jail for a term not exceeding 90 days.
Any person who intentionally causes the giving of a false alarm shall be in violation of this chapter and shall be subject to a penalty of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000 and/or imprisonment for any term not to exceed 90 days and/or by a period of community service not to exceed 90 days for each such offense.
Any person testing an alarm system covered by the provisions of this chapter shall notify either police headquarters for intrusion devices or the Fire Official for fire alarm devices immediately prior to and immediately after the testing is completed. Failure to do so will constitute a violation of this chapter and shall subject such persons to the penalties set forth herein.
The Chief of Police and Fire Official shall cooperate in connection with the administration of this chapter and the development of the forms, permits, decals, records and other documents used by the Chief of Police.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to general alerting alarms that may be used by fire companies, ambulance squads or civil defense agencies to summon its members. Moreover, the provisions of this chapter do not apply to alarm systems affixed to motor vehicles.
Any owner or use of an alarm system who accidentally activates his or her burglar alarm and properly notifies the Police Department within three minutes after activation will not be charged with a false alarm.
This grace period shall not apply to false fire alarms.
The Chief of Police in conjunction with the Fire Official may, from time to time, prescribe and promulgate subsequent rules and regulations for the installation and connection of alarm equipment, devices or systems covered by the terms of this chapter and for the performance, maintenance and operation of the same as may be reasonably necessary to fulfill the purposes of this chapter.
Such rules and regulations shall be made, prescribed and promulgated to sufficiently ensure an effective and uniform police/fire alarm system with proper installation and connection; provide for maintenance of records and efficient management of the alarm system, the speed and accuracy of the operation and reporting of said alarms, minimizing mechanical failure and minimizing false alarms and the consequential dangers of the same to citizens of Readington Township; provide for the proper monitoring of alarms and proper response to such alarms and prevention of nuisances or other interferences or hindrances of the proper operation and duties of the Police Department.
Said rules and regulations and all changes thereof shall be subject to the approval of the Township Committee.
Said rules and regulations shall be in writing and shall be given to each registrant at the time of application.