[HISTORY Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Whitemarsh 4-18-1991 by Ord. No. 621. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also repealed former Ch. 37, Alarms; Automatic Protection Devices, adopted 3-18-1982 by Ord. No. 428, as amended.
The following definitions shall apply in the interpretation and enforcement of this chapter.
- ALARM SUPPLIER
- The business by an individual, partnership, corporation or other entity of selling, leasing, maintaining, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving or installing any alarm system or causing any alarm system to be sold, leased, maintained, serviced, repaired, altered, replaced, moved or installed, in or on any building, structure or facility.
- ALARM SYSTEM
- Any assembly of equipment, mechanical, electrical, or battery-operated, arranged to signal the occurrence of a police, fire, hazard or medical emergency requiring urgent attention and to which police or fire units are expected to respond.
- ANSWERING SERVICE
- A service where trained employees, in attendance at all times, receive prerecorded voice, code or signal messages from automatic dialing devices reporting an emergency at a stated location, where such employees have the duty to relay immediately by live voice any such emergency message over a trunk line to the communications center of the Police or Fire Department.
- AUDIBLE ALARM
- Any device, bell, horn or siren which is attached to the interior or exterior of a building, structure or facility and emits a warning signal audible outside the building, structure or facility and is designed to attract attention when activated by a criminal act or other emergency requiring Police or Fire Department response.
- 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 or signal that indicates that an emergency condition exists and the need for an emergency response is required.
- CENTRAL STATION PROTECTIVE SYSTEM
- A protective system or group of such systems operated privately for customers by a person, firm or corporation which accepts recorded messages or signals from automatic dialing devices at a central station having operators and guards in attendance at all times who have the duty to take appropriate action upon receipt of a signal or message, indicating the relaying of messages to the communications center of the Police or Fire Department.
- DESIGNATED TRUNK LINE
- A telephone line leading into the communications center of the Police Department or Fire Department that is for the primary purpose of handling emergency messages that originate from automatic protection devices and are transmitted directly or indirectly through an intermediary.
- A police, fire, hazard or medical emergency.
- A. An alarm activated in the absence of an emergency, whether willfully or by inadvertence, negligence, equipment malfunction or unintentional act, to which the Police Department or Fire Department responds and which is not the result of a burglary, fire, robbery or a similar emergency. If doubt exists as to the cause of the false alarm, the Chief of Police, or his designee, or the Fire Marshal, or his designee, shall make a decision regarding the circumstances of the activation.
- B. The definition of a false alarm also includes the intentional activation of a holdup alarm for other than a holdup in progress, the intentional activation of a burglary alarm for other than a burglary, the intentional activation of a medical alarm for other than a medical emergency or the intentional activation of a fire alarm for other than a fire or hazard.
- FIRE DEPARTMENT
- The Barren Hill, Spring Mill and Lincoln Fire Companies.
- FIRE EMERGENCY
- A fire.
- FIRE MARSHAL
- The Fire Marshal of Whitemarsh Township.
- HAZARD EMERGENCY
- An explosion or leak of toxic gas, liquid or solid, or a potential explosion or leak.
- A central station protective system or an answering service as herein defined.
- To use a telephone line and equipment for transmitting a message, either directly or indirectly, by an automatic dialing device.
- MEDICAL EMERGENCY
- An emergency involving the health of a person.
- Written permission duly granted to an applicant by the Township upon payment of the required fee.
- POLICE DEPARTMENT
- The Whitemarsh Township Police Department.
- POLICE EMERGENCY
- An incident requiring prompt response by the Police Department.
- POLICE AND FIRE COMMUNICATIONS CENTER
- The police and fire communication rooms and other rooms housing communications equipment and the police and fire radio dispatchers which provide dispatch service to Whitemarsh Township.
- The Township of Whitemarsh.
- TOWNSHIP CHIEF OF POLICE
- The administrative head of the Whitemarsh Township Police Department.
- TRUNK LINES
- A telephone line leading into the communications centers of the Police and Fire Departments that is for the purpose of handling calls on a person-to-person basis and which is identified by a specific listing among the white pages in the telephone directory issued by the telephone company.
- Any person, partnership, corporation or other entity that owns, leases or otherwise possesses an alarm system for use on any property in Whitemarsh Township.
On and after the effective date of this chapter, owners or users of audible alarms must equip such audible alarms with a timing mechanism that will disengage the audible alarm after a maximum of 15 minutes. Audible alarms without such a timing mechanism shall be unlawful in the Township and must be disconnected by the owner or user within 60 days from the effective date of this chapter. The following shall be excepted from the provisions of this section:
On and after the effective date of this chapter, all automatic dialing devices that transmit recorded messages directly to the Police Department or Fire Department shall be keyed to the designated trunk line and shall not under any circumstances be keyed to the Emergency 911 line.
Every alarm supplier installing an alarm system in the Township shall furnish to the Chief of Police/Fire Marshal the following information on forms provided by the Township:
The name, residence and telephone number of the owner or user.
The address where the device is installed and the telephone number at that address.
The name, address and telephone number of any person, partnership, corporation or other entity that is authorized to respond to an emergency and gain access to the address where the device is installed.
The name and telephone number of any person, partnership, corporation or other entity, other than the alarm supplier, that is responsible for maintenance and repair of the system.
The type of system, i.e., holdup, burglary, fire or medical emergency.
Users of alarm system devices whose devices were installed prior to the effective date of this chapter shall, within 60 days after such enactment, supply the Chief of Police/Fire Marshal with the information specified in Subsection A.
All information furnished pursuant to this section shall be kept confidential and shall be for the authorized use of the Police and Fire Departments only.
Except as provided in Subsection B below, a permit shall be obtained from the Fire Marshal by or on behalf of the owner of the premises upon which a fire alarm system is to be installed. The installation of any fire alarm system shall be in accordance with the requirements of the Township Fire Prevention and Building Codes. All permits shall be issued subject to the applicant's compliance with § 37-11.
Exceptions. A battery-powered (nine-volt, eleven-and-two-tenths-volt or similar voltage) audible alarm system or an electrically energized audible alarm system installed in a single-family residential unit whose sole purpose is to notify the occupants of that location of an emergency situation shall be exempt from the permit requirements of this chapter and the Fire Prevention Code if all of the following conditions exist:
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.
The audible alarm does not sound outside the location (no external speakers).
The internal signal emitted by the audible alarm does not exceed 90 decibels.
The internal alarm does not cause undue annoyance or alarm to occupants of adjoining premises.
Alarm users who are exempt from obtaining an alarm user's permit for a fire alarm shall nevertheless be subject to the penalty provisions prescribed in this chapter.
Each alarm supplier who, after the effective date of this chapter, sells or leases in the Township an alarm system shall furnish operating instructions and a manual to the buyer or lessee.
The public safety requires that the incidence of false alarms and malfunctioning automatic dialing devices be kept to a minimum so as to reduce unnecessary calls of the Police and Fire Departments and to increase the effectiveness of properly functioning alarm systems. In order to reduce the incidence of false alarms and malfunctioning alarm systems, it is necessary that appropriate Township officials have the right to inspect the installation and operation of any alarm system installed in the Township.
The installation of an alarm system pursuant to this chapter or the continuance of the use of any alarm system already installed on the effective date of this chapter shall constitute consent by the owner or lessees thereof and authorization for the inspection of any such installation and/or operation by the Police or Fire Department.
All such entries upon the premises where an alarm system is installed and all such inspections of the installation and operation of alarm systems shall be at reasonable times and upon reasonable notice, except in emergency situations.
Every alarm supplier selling, leasing or furnishing to any user or a user who privately installs an alarm system which is located on premises within the Township shall:
Be permitted to install only equipment that is listed by Underwriter's Laboratories, Inc., as being electrically safe and meeting the Township requirements for the alarm system. Wiring for the alarm system must conform to all applicable Township Building/Electrical Codes. In the case of fire alarms, the stricter of NFPA Standards or Township regulations shall apply.
Be required to cause each alarm system installed to be provided with standby battery power which shall automatically and immediately take over in the event of a power failure.
Be required to install equipment in such a way as to neutralize electrical surges on the alarm system.
Be required to deactivate any alarm system within a reasonable period of time when multiple false alarms are received.
The sensory mechanism used in smoke detectors for fire alarm systems shall be installed with an alarm verification system that will attempt to reset the detector once prior to transmitting an alarm activation signal. In the event that a second signal is received from the same zone or an adjacent zone prior to verification, the system will go into alarm without delay. This subsection will not apply to residential systems under four zones when approved by the Fire Marshal.
All detectors used in fire alarm systems or installed as individual detectors shall be of the photoelectric type unless specific approval is given by the Fire Marshal to use a different type.
Existing fire alarm systems in operation as of April 18, 1991, shall have one year from the date of April 18, 1991, to be retrofitted to have an alarm verification system as described in Subsection B above.
Each alarm supplier that installs one or more alarm systems in the Township shall make service available on a twenty-four-hour-per-day basis, seven days a week, to repair such devices and to correct malfunctions as they occur. Any person using an alarm system shall make arrangements for service to be available for such device on a twenty-four-hour-per-day basis, seven days per week.
No person shall conduct any test or demonstration of any alarm system without first notifying the Dispatch Center of the Township Police or Fire Radio Network, as applicable.
Alarm suppliers and installers shall furnish, at their own expense, at or prior to the time of contracting, a copy of this chapter to owners, lessees or users of the equipment or services to be supplied.
By installation of an alarm system or by the continuation of the use of an alarm system already installed on the effective date of this chapter, the owner, lessee or user thereof shall agree that such installation constitutes a waiver by such person of the right to bring or file any action, claim or complaint whatsoever against any police officer or fireman who makes a forced entry in response to such an alarm into the premises on which such an alarm system is installed..
In the instance of a lessee or other user not the owner of the premises on which an alarm is installed, the installation shall constitute an indemnification agreement by the applicant to hold harmless any such police officer or fireman, the Township, the Police Department and the Fire Departments/Fire Marshal, as appropriate, from any and all damages whatsoever claimed by the lessor or owner of the premises on which the alarm is installed that result from entry into the subject premises..
When messages evidencing failure to comply with the operational requirements set forth in § 37-8 are received by the Fire Department or the Police Department, and the Police Chief and/or Fire Marshal conclude that the alarm system sending such messages should be disconnected in order to relieve the particular Police/Fire Department of the burden of responding to false alarms, they are authorized to demand that the user of the device, or his representative, disconnect the device until it is made to comply with the operational requirements. If disconnection of the defective alarm system is not accomplished promptly and the Chief of Police and/or Fire Marshal determine that the malfunctioning alarm system is repeatedly sending false alarms without any intermittent valid alarms, they may then take any steps necessary to disconnect the defective alarm system. Any expenses so incurred by the Township shall be promptly reimbursed by the owner or lessee of the defective alarm system.
Penalties for false alarms shall be as follows:
[Amended 2-11-1999 by Ord. No. 718]
Intentional false alarms: not less than $500 but no more than $1,000.
Any person or persons, corporations, partnership or other entity whatsoever violating any of the provisions of this chapter, other than false alarms, shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine not to exceed the maximum fine of $1,000, plus costs of prosecution, and in default of payment of such costs of prosecution, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 30 days; provided, however, that if the District Justice determines that the defendant is without the financial means to pay the fines and costs immediately or in a single remittance, such defendant shall be permitted to pay the fines or costs in installments and over such periods of time as the District Justice deems to be just.
Users shall pay such permit, connection and annual fees as the Board of Supervisors shall set by resolution from time to time. The Board of Supervisors may set permit fees and adopt regulations to implement this chapter from time to time.