City of Rochester, NY
Monroe County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Rochester City Council 1-17-1984 by Ord. No. 84-18. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Municipal Code Violations Bureau — See Ch. 13A.
This chapter shall be known as the "Alarm Systems Ordinance."
It is the purpose of this chapter to protect and promote the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of the City of Rochester by reducing the number of avoidable alarms to emergency agencies. Avoidable alarms contribute to ineffective utilization of public safety manpower and equipment. In addition, avoidable alarms require emergency responses which may contribute to a high accident rate and delayed responses to genuine emergencies. This chapter seeks to ensure that police, ambulance and fire communications facilities will be available to dispatch police, ambulance and fire personnel for actual emergencies and to alleviate the nuisance of audible alarms to the surrounding community. Another purpose of this chapter is to provide the City with the names of responsible people to contact in the case of activation of an alarm.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ALARM BUSINESS
Any person who engages in the business of selling, altering, installing, leasing, maintaining, repairing, replacing, servicing or responding to an alarm system.
ALARM SYSTEM
A device or an assembly of equipment which emits an audible response which is intended to alert persons outside a premises to the existence of a hazard or emergency, or which is intended to alert emergency agencies by automatically dialing an emergency agency, or which is connected to a private answering point for the purpose of reporting such alarms to emergency agencies, or which is directly connected to the Emergency Communications Center or other emergency agency.
ALARM USER
Any person who owns, leases or uses an alarm system within the City of Rochester, except for a person whose alarm system is on a motor vehicle or is a proprietary system. If, however, an alarm system on a motor vehicle is connected with an alarm system at a premises (other than a proprietary system) in the City of Rochester, the person using such system is an "alarm user."
AVOIDABLE ALARM
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 or her employees or agents or through any other cause which through direct connection to an emergency agency or which through notification of an emergency agency by a private answering point or automatic dialing device or which through notification to an emergency agency by any other second party or means indicates that an emergency situation exists requiring an emergency response within the City of Rochester when, in fact, an emergency situation does not exist. An "avoidable alarm" also includes the knowing or intentional activation of an alarm to an emergency agency when the activator knows that an emergency situation does not exist. "Avoidable alarm" does not include alarms activated by violent conditions of nature, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes or any other similar cause beyond the control of the user of an alarm system. Activation of an alarm system under any circumstances in which the activator reasonably believes that an emergency situation exists is not an "avoidable alarm."
[Amended 2-14-2006 by Ord. No. 2006-22]
EMERGENCY AGENCY
Any police department, fire department or other law enforcement agency, ambulance company or other agency summoned to respond to an emergency situation; and the Emergency Communications Center.
LOCAL ALARM SYSTEM
A signaling system which, when activated, causes an audible signaling device to be activated outside the premises within which the system is installed.
PRIVATE ANSWERING POINT
A business which offers the service of receiving emergency signals, monitoring said signals and relaying them to an emergency agency.
PROPRIETARY SYSTEM
An alarm, sounding and/or recording alarm and supervisory signals at a control center located within the premises protected by the alarm, which is not intended to alert persons outside of the premises on which the alarm system is located of a possible hazard and is not intended to alert an emergency agency, the control center being under the supervision of the proprietor of the protected premises. If a proprietary system includes a signal line connected directly or by means of an automatic dialing device to an emergency agency or to a private answering point or to a local alarm system, it thereby becomes an "alarm system" as defined in this chapter.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to proprietary alarm systems. Permits shall be required for alarm systems located in buildings of federal, state or local governmental agencies or authorities or in public elementary or secondary schools, and said alarm systems shall meet the other requirements of this chapter, but said alarm systems shall be exempt from all fees established in this chapter.
A. 
No person shall own, use, lease, operate or maintain an alarm system within the City of Rochester unless such person shall have first obtained from the City a permit for such alarm.
B. 
Alarm user permit application.
(1) 
In order to obtain an alarm user permit, any person who operates an alarm system shall submit an application for such permit in the form designated by the City, which application shall contain the following information:
(a) 
The name and home address of the person applying for a permit.
(b) 
The address of the premises upon which the alarm system is or will be located.
(c) 
The type of alarm system for which the permit is sought.
(d) 
The name of the alarm business or businesses selling, installing, monitoring, inspecting, responding to and/or maintaining the alarm system, if applicable.
(e) 
The telephone number of the person applying for the permit.
(f) 
The name and telephone number of at least two other persons who can be reached at any time, day or night, and who are authorized by the owner of the premises in which the system is installed to open the premises. This requirement may be waived by the City for residential owners if it will result in a hardship or for a good cause shown.
(g) 
Any other information as the City may require.
(2) 
The information required on the permit application shall be treated as confidential and shall not be made available to members of the general public. The Council finds that the release of such information would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy and could endanger the life or safety of persons at the premises where an alarm system is located. The information on a permit application shall be used by the City only for law enforcement purposes.
(3) 
Every application for an alarm user permit shall be accompanied by a fee of $25. No alarm user permit shall be granted unless the applicable fee is submitted with the application.
[Amended 10-13-1992 by Ord. No. 92-379; 6-18-2002 by Ord. No. 2002-201; 6-17-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-205; 6-15-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-194; 6-19-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-168[1]]
[1]
Editor's Note: This ordinance provided an effective date of 7-1-2018.
(4) 
Upon receipt of a properly executed application, the City shall issue an alarm user permit to the applicant. Alarm user permits shall not be transferable and shall be maintained on the premises where the alarm system is located and made available for inspection by emergency agency officers.
C. 
Duration of permit.
(1) 
An alarm user permit shall expire on April 30 next following its issuance.
(2) 
An alarm user permit shall be revoked whenever 25 or more avoidable alarms are recorded for a system in any one permit year. Notice of such revocation shall be sent by the City, by first-class mail, to the home address listed on the permit application at least 10 days before the revocation takes effect. The alarm user may reinstate a revoked permit by payment of all excessive use fees and by submission of proof that modifications have been made to the alarm system to reduce the number of avoidable alarms. The alarm user may seek administrative review of the revocation in accordance with Subsection G hereof by notifying the Fire Chief or Chief of Police, in writing, within 10 days after the date of the notice of revocation. The failure to give timely notice shall be deemed a waiver of the right to challenge the revocation. An alarm user permit shall not be revoked under this subsection if said alarm system is required by federal, state or local law, However, all other provisions of this section shall apply to such systems, and the user of such a system shall remain responsible for the payment of all authorized fees.
[Amended 4-15-1986 by Ord. No. 86-96]
D. 
Renewal of permit. Subject to the provisions of this chapter and upon payment of the appropriate permit renewal fee, stipulated in Subsection E hereof, an alarm user permit may be renewed by the alarm user.
E. 
Renewal fees based on use.
(1) 
The annual permit renewal fee shall be based upon the number of avoidable alarms recorded for each alarm user as follows:
[Amended 4-15-1986 by Ord. No. 86-96; 6-18-1991 by Ord. No. 91-257; 5-12-1992 by Ord. No. 92-17510-13-1992 by Ord. No. 92-379; 6-14-1994 by Ord. No. 94-171; 6-18-2002 by Ord. No. 2002-201; 1-27-2004 by Ord. No. 2004-38[2]; 6-17-2008 by Ord. No. 2008-205; 6-15-2010 by Ord. No. 2010-194; 6-19-2018 by Ord. No. 2018-168[3]]
(a) 
For an alarm user with zero avoidable alarms during the preceding year, a renewal fee of $25 shall be charged.
(b) 
For an alarm user with one avoidable alarm during the preceding year, a base permit renewal fee of $25 shall be charged, plus an additional excessive use fee of $5.
(c) 
For an alarm user with two avoidable alarms during the preceding year, a base permit renewal fee of $25 shall be charged, plus an additional excessive use fee of $30.
(d) 
For an alarm user with three avoidable alarms during the preceding year, a base permit renewal fee of $25 shall be charged, plus an additional excessive use fee of $50.
(e) 
For an alarm user with four avoidable alarms during the preceding year, a base permit renewal fee of $25 shall be charged, plus an additional excessive use fee of $90.
(f) 
For an alarm user with more than four avoidable alarms during the preceding year, a base renewal fee of $25, plus an additional excessive use fee of $90 and an additional excessive use fee of $50 for each subsequent avoidable alarm, shall be charged, except that such excessive use fees shall not be charged for systems with any combination of more than 500 pull stations, or heat, smoke, flame or fire gas detectors, or water flow sensing devices, not including sprinkler heads, until the alarm user has had more than 20 avoidable alarms during the preceding year, and such excessive use fees shall not be charged for residential child-care facilities with any combination of more than 100 pull stations, or heat, smoke, flame or fire gas detectors, or water flow sensing devices, not including sprinkler heads, until such a facility has had more than 40 avoidable alarms during the preceding year. At the time of renewal, an alarm user shall receive credit for any amounts paid during the permit year to reinstate a revoked permit.
[2]
Editor's Note: This ordinance also stated that it would apply retroactivity to the effective date of Ord. No. 2002-201.
[3]
Editor's Note: This ordinance provided an effective date of 7-1-2018.
(2) 
No renewal shall be granted unless the appropriate renewal fee is submitted with the renewal application.
(3) 
If a permit lapses, no permit, whether renewal or otherwise, shall be granted to an alarm user for the same premises within three years after the permit expires, unless all outstanding renewal fees are paid.
F. 
Notice of excessive use fees. The City shall notify an alarm user, in writing, by means of first-class mail sent to the home address listed on the permit application, when an alarm user has reached the number of avoidable alarms during a permit year which leads to excessive use fees for additional avoidable alarms. Such notice shall inform the alarm user that additional avoidable alarms will subject the alarm user to such excessive use fees. At the end of a permit year, the City shall notify each alarm user, in writing, by means of first-class mail sent to the home address listed on the permit application, of the number of avoidable alarms incurred during the preceding year and the amount to be charged. Excessive use fees shall be paid only at the end of a permit year, after renewal notifications have been mailed, unless a permit has been revoked.
[Amended 4-15-1986 by Ord. No. 86-96]
G. 
Administrative review. The Chief of Police and the Fire Chief shall establish procedures whereby an alarm user with more than three avoidable alarms during a permit year 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 shall designate members of their Departments to collect such evidence and make a recommendation and findings of fact concerning such classification. The Chief of Police or the Fire Chief shall make the final determination concerning the classification, which determination shall be reviewable only pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules. In order to challenge the classification of an alarm as an avoidable alarm, an alarm user must so notify the Chief of Police or Fire Chief, in writing, within 10 days after the date of the notification to the alarm user of the avoidable alarms incurred during the preceding period, except that the first three avoidable alarms may only be challenged within 10 days of an alarm user being notified on a fourth avoidable alarm during a permit year. The failure to give timely notice shall be deemed a waiver of the right to challenge the classification.
[Amended 4-15-1986 by Ord. No. 86-96]
Violators of § 27-5A shall be liable for a civil penalty of $100. Upon finding an alarm user operating an alarm system without a valid permit, an alarm user shall be issued a Municipal Code violations ticket. Such ticket shall be dismissed if the alarm user obtains a permit within 25 days after issuance of the ticket and submits proof that a permit has been obtained to the Municipal Code Violations Bureau prior to or at a scheduled hearing on the ticket. Payment of the penalty established herein shall not satisfy the requirement to obtain a permit or to pay the applicable permit fees.
A. 
Every alarm business in the City of Rochester shall provide all alarm system purchasers or lessees with written instructions that provide adequate information to enable the alarm user to operate the alarm properly. A current copy of all such written instructions shall be furnished to the City upon its request.
B. 
Every alarm business in the City of Rochester shall provide all alarm system purchasers or lessees with an application for an alarm user permit in the form designated by the City.
C. 
No alarm business in the City shall sell, alter, install, lease, maintain, repair, replace or service an alarm system unless the system owner, user, lessee or operator shall have obtained from the City a permit for such alarm.
[Added 9-19-2006 by Ord. No. 2006-293]
Alarm systems which are interconnected or otherwise transmit signals directly to the Emergency Communications Center shall be subject to the laws, rules, regulations and penalties adopted by the County of Monroe relating to such systems.
A. 
All local alarm systems shall become deactivated and silenced automatically after a period of time not to exceed 15 minutes.
B. 
Police and/or fire officials may disable an audible alarm signal that has not been silenced prior to the expiration of the fifteen-minute period and shall not be liable for any damage that may result.
C. 
Any person who violates this section shall be subject to the penalties set forth in § 13A-11 of the Municipal Code.
The Municipal Code Violations Bureau shall hear and determine charges involving violations of this chapter.