[HISTORY: Adopted by the Lewiston Town Board 4-9-2001 by L.L. No. 1-2001; amended in its entirety 5-13-2002 by L.L. No. 1-2002. (Ch. 1A of the 1965 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known as the "Town of Lewiston False Alarm Law."
The purpose of this chapter is to protect and promote the health, safety and general welfare of the Town of Lewiston by reducing the number of false alarms of fire, intrusion, holdup or other emergencies which contribute to the ineffective use of emergency response agencies, require emergency responses which are susceptible to high accident rates, interfere with genuine emergencies (responses) and produce unnecessary alarm noises to the surrounding community.
For the purpose of this chapter, the following words, terms and phrases shall have the meanings respectively ascribed to the term by this section:
- ALARM BUSINESS
- Any person or persons engaged in the sale, leasing, installation, maintenance or service of alarm systems or who, in any manner, cause the sale, leasing, installation, maintenance or service of alarm systems in or on any building, structure or facility within the Town of Lewiston. An alarm business shall be licensed through New York State.
- ALARM INFORMATION NOTICE
- A notice or decal posted in a prominent location on a building at which an alarm is operational, which shall contain an assigned identification number.
- ALARM SYSTEM
- Any assembly of equipment or devices arranged to signal the presence of a hazard requiring urgent attention which is directly or indirectly connected to police, fire or emergency medical services and to which police, fire and emergency medical services agencies are expected to respond. An alarm system shall include automatic dialing devices.
- ALARM USER
- Any person using an alarm, including the owner or lessee of real property where an alarm is located.
- AUTOMATIC DIALER
- Any device that automatically dials and relays a prerecorded message to an emergency agency.
- FALSE ALARM
- Activation of an alarm system through mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation, no auxiliary power supply, or the negligence of the owner, user, custodian or lessee of any alarm system or of his or her employees, requiring an emergency response when, in fact, an emergency does not exist, or the intentional activation of an alarm system when the activator knows an emergency situation does not exist. A false alarm does not include alarms 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 a false alarm.
All alarm system users or their designees may register said alarm system with the Town Clerk, on forms by the Town Clerk, within 30 days of written notification. An initial registration fee as set forth from time to time by resolution of the Town Board for alarms shall be required. Failure to receive written notification in no way relieves alarm system users from the false alarm fees, prohibitions and restriction sections of this chapter.
Whenever there occurs any change in the information provided on said registration, the alarm system user or his or her designee shall provide said changes to the Town Clerk.
It is hereby found and determined that false alarms requiring the Police and/or Fire Departments to respond constitutes a public safety hazard and nuisance.
An owner or lessee of real property to which an emergency agency responds as a result of a false alarm shall pay a fee for each such response in each calendar year. Such fee(s) shall be set from time to time by resolution of the Town Board of the Town of Lewiston.
[Amended 8-27-2018 by L.L. No. 4-2018]
For purposes of this section, the term "calendar year" for 2002 shall commence on the effective date of this chapter.
Notice of excessive use. The owner or lessee of real property which received an emergency response by reason of a false 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 real property of the times and types of emergency responses provided to the address location and shall contain a copy of this chapter.
The failure to pay service fees assessed pursuant to this section within 30 days of written notice from the Town Clerk's office of the imposition of the fee is a violation of this chapter.
Payment of charges. False alarm fees shall be paid to the Town Clerk of the Town of Lewiston, 1375 Ridge Road, Lewiston, New York 14092.
The Code Enforcement Officer, in cooperation with other Town officials, shall establish a policy and procedure whereby an owner of real property or lessee thereof on which an alarm system has been installed and who has been notified of a false alarm may present evidence as to why any such alarm should not be classified as a false alarm. The Police Chief and/or Fire Chiefs shall designate three members of their departments, not to exceed three in total, to receive such evidence and make recommendations and findings of fact concerning such classification. All burglar alarm calls shall be referred to the Police Chief and/or his designee for a determination and recommendation to the Code Enforcement Officer. All fire alarm calls shall be referred to the Fire Bureau or its designee for a determination and recommendation to the Code Enforcement Officer. The Code Enforcement Officer 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 a false alarm, the real property owner or lessee thereof, or the alarm business responsible for maintenance of the alarm, shall, in writing, notify the Code Enforcement Officer within 20 days after the receipt of notice of false alarm. The failure to give timely notice shall be deemed a waiver of the right to review the determination.
Alarm users shall be subject to a service fee of as set forth from time to time by resolution of the Town Board for each occurrence which the Police or Fire Departments responds to an alarm at a building in which an alarm is operational, but the alarm information notice required by § 95-4 is not posted. This fee shall be in addition to the service fees and charges imposed pursuant to § 95-4.
The failure to pay service fees assessed pursuant to this section within 30 days of written notice from the Town Clerk's office of the imposition of the fee shall result in an additional charge as set forth from time to time by resolution of the Town Board for each occurrence for which a service fee has been assessed. The failure to pay service fees assessed pursuant to this section within 30 days of written notice from the Town Clerk's office of the imposition of the fee is a violation of this chapter. Service charges shall be paid to the Town Clerk of the Town of Lewiston, 1375 Ridge Road, Lewiston, New York 14092.
Inspection for displaying of the alarm information notice shall be conducted by the Town of Lewiston Code Enforcement Officer during periodic fire inspections. The Code Enforcement Officer shall notify, in writing, by first-class mail, any property owner or lessee where an alarm information notice is not properly posted. The property owner or lessee shall properly post the required alarm information notice within 15 days of the receipt of notice. Failure to properly post the alarm information notice within 15 days shall be an occurrence, as defined in Subsection A of this section.
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 alarms after a period not to exceed 10 minutes after activation.
An automatic dialer shall be connected directly to the Niagara County Sheriff or New York State Police dispatcher and 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 the 911 emergency telephone system.
There shall be no automatic alarm systems with direct communication of any type to an emergency agency without prior written authorization from the emergency agency where the alarms terminate.
The Code Enforcement Officer or his or her designees shall enforce this chapter. For that purpose, the Code Enforcement Officer and his or her designees are authorized to issue and serve appearance tickets. The Building Inspector for the Town of Lewiston shall be the Code Enforcement Officer for purposes of this section.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed or interpreted to place the Town of Lewiston or any of its officers or agents under any obligation or duty to an alarm user or to any person hereunder by reason of this chapter. The Town specifically disclaims any and all liability for any and all damages which may be in any way related to the failure or inability to respond to any alarm.
Any person, business, firm, corporation, partnership, association or other entity that does not pay the fees as established in this chapter shall be subject to a civil penalty in an amount not less than twice the amount of such unpaid fees, but not to exceed $1,000 for each offense. Any person, business, firm, corporation, partnership, association or other entity that violates any other provisions of this chapter shall be subject to a civil penalty in an amount not less than twice the amount of such unpaid fees, but not to exceed $1,000 for each offense. A separate offense shall be deemed committed upon each day during which a violation occurs, continues or is permitted.