[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of North Tonawanda 12-20-1994. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This ordinance shall be known as the "Alarm Ordinance of the City of North Tonawanda."
The purpose of this ordinance is to protect and promote the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of the City of North Tonawanda by reducing the number of avoidable alarms of fire, intrusion, holdup or other emergencies which contribute to ineffective utilization of police and life emergency agencies, require emergency responses which are susceptible to high accident rates, interfere with genuine emergencies (responses) and produce unnecessary alarm noise to the surrounding community.
For the purpose of this ordinance, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to them by this section:
- ALARM SYSTEM
- A device or an assembly of equipment which is designed to detect smoke, abnormal rise in temperature, fire, medical emergency or an entry into or exit from a building, structure or facility and by reason thereof emits an audible response intended to alert persons outside of the premises and/or transmit a signal or message to an emergency agency either directly or through a private answering point.
- AUTOMATIC DIALER
- A device that automatically dials and relays a prerecorded message to an emergency agency.
- EMERGENCY AGENCY
- The Police Department or Fire Department Central Fire Dispatch or other emergency dispatch center.
The owners and lessees of premises having alarm systems shall comply with all provisions of this ordinance on or before the first day of January 1995.
No person shall install or maintain an external audible alarm device which does not contain an operational automatic cutoff system which turns off the external audible alarm after a period not to exceed 10 minutes. An automatic dialer connected directly to an emergency agency shall automatically disconnect and/or terminate its message after the message has been transmitted a maximum of two times. Notwithstanding the foregoing however, the total transmission time of all messages shall not exceed five minutes.
No alarm system shall have an automatic dialer feature or other type of alarm alert which connects automatically to enhanced 911 or 911 emergency telephone system. There shall be no automatic alarm system with direct communication of any type to an emergency agency without prior written authorization from the emergency agency where the alarms terminate.
The activation of an alarm system through mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation or the negligence of the owner, user, custodian or lessee of an alarm system or of his employees requiring an emergency response when in fact an emergency does not exist constitutes an avoidable alarm. An avoidable alarm also includes intentional activation of an alarm system when the activator knows an emergency situation does not exist. Avoidable alarm does not include an alarm activated by violent conditions of nature or similar causes beyond the control of the user, owner or operator of the alarm system. The activation of an alarm system under any circumstances in which the activator reasonably believes that an emergency situation exists shall not be deemed to be an avoidable alarm.
An owner or lessee of real property to which an emergency agency responds as a result of an avoidable alarm shall pay a fee for each such response each calendar year as follows:
The owner or lessee of real property which received an emergency response by reason of an avoidable alarm shall be notified in writing by means of first class mail of all avoidable alarms up to five police alarms and/or one fire alarm in a calendar year. The letter shall inform the owner or lessee of the times and types of emergency responses provided to the address location and shall contain a copy of this ordinance.
The Chief of Police and the Fire Chief shall establish a policy and procedures whereby an owner of real property or lessee thereof on which an alarm system has been installed and who has been notified of an avoidable alarm may present evidence as to why any such alarm should not be classified as an avoidable alarm. The Chief of Police and the Fire Chief may designate members of their departments, not to exceed three in total, to receive such evidence and make recommendations and findings of fact concerning such classification. The Chief of Police and the Fire Chief shall make the final determination concerning a classification, which determination shall be reviewable only pursuant to procedures under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules. To challenge the classification of an alarm as an avoidable alarm, the real property owner or lessee thereof shall in writing notify the Chief of Police and/or the Fire Chief within 20 days after receipt of notice of the avoidable alarm. The failure to give timely notice shall be deemed a waiver of the right to review the determination.
Avoidable alarm charges shall be paid to the City Treasurer of the City of North Tonawanda at 216 Payne Avenue, North Tonawanda, New York 14120.
Failure of a real property owner or lessee of property on which an alarm system is installed to pay the avoidable alarm charge, within 30 days following notice of the amount due, shall be served with an appearance ticket and shall be deemed in violation of this ordinance.
The Chief of Police or his designee shall enforce this ordinance for alarm systems which detect medical emergencies and entry or exit from a building, structure or facility. The Fire Chief or his designee shall enforce this ordinance for alarm systems which detect smoke, fire or abnormal rise in temperature.
Any person, business, firm, corporation, partnership, association or other entity that does not pay the fee as established in this ordinance or who violates any other provisions of this ordinance shall be guilty of a violation and be subject to a fine of not more than $250 or imprisonment for a period not to exceed 15 days or by both such fine and imprisonment. In lieu of or in addition to such fine and imprisonment or both, each such violation shall be subject to a civil penalty not exceeding $1,000 for any one case, to be recovered in an action or proceeding brought by the City Attorney of the City of North Tonawanda in a court of competent jurisdiction. A separate offense shall be deemed committed upon each day during which a violation occurs, continues or is permitted and shall be punishable as such.
If any section, clause or provision of this ordinance or the application thereof to any persons is adjudged invalid, the adjudication shall not effect other sections, clauses or provisions or the application thereof which can be sustained or given effect without the invalid section, clause or provision or application, and to this end the various sections, clauses or provisions of this ordinance are declared to be severable.
This ordinance shall become effective January 1, 1995, after approval by the Common Council and publication in the official newspaper of the city.