[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Easton as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 5-10-1995 by Ord. No. 3367 (Art. 1509 of the 1965 Codified Ordinances)]
As used in this article, the following words and terms shall have the following meanings:
- ALARM SYSTEM
- A fire alarm system, as defined in this section.
- AUTOMATIC TELEPHONE DIGITAL ALARM COMMUNICATOR SYSTEM
- An alarm system which automatically sends a coded signal over regular telephone lines by direct connection or otherwise indicating the existence of the emergency situation that the alarm system is designed to detect.
- ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL
- The Fire Chief or his designated representative.
- FALSE FIRE ALARM
- The activation of any alarm which results in the response of the Fire Department caused by the negligence or intentional misuse of the system by the owner or his employees, servants or agents and fire alarm technicians; or any other activation not caused by heat, smoke or fire, exclusive of a fire alarm malfunction, as defined below. An alarm is not considered a false fire alarm if the alarm is activated due to malicious causes beyond the control of the owner.
- The assessment of a monetary charge payable to the City, authorized pursuant to this article, to defray the expenses of responding to a false alarm or alarm malfunction.
- FIRE ALARM MALFUNCTION
- The activation of any alarm which results in the response of the Fire Department caused by mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation or lack of proper maintenance, or any other response for which the Fire Department personnel are unable to gain access to the premises for any reason or are unable to determine the apparent cause of the alarm activation. False alarms found to be caused by electrical storms shall not be considered to be malfunctions.
- FIRE ALARM SYSTEM
- Any mechanical, electrical or radio-controlled device which is designed to emit a sound or transmit a signal or message when activated because of smoke, heat or fire. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, alarm systems shall be deemed to include audible alarms at the site of the installation of the detection device, proprietor alarms and automatic telephone digital alarm communicator systems. A single station (residential) smoke detector shall not be deemed to be an alarm system under this article.
- FIRE ALARM TECHNICIAN
- Any person who inspects, installs, repairs or performs maintenance on fire alarm systems.
- FIRE DEPARTMENT
- The City of Easton, Bureau of Fire.
- Any person who owns the premises in which an alarm system is installed or the person or persons who lease, operate, occupy or manage the premises.
- Any building, structure or combination of building and structures which serve as dwelling units, single-family or multifamily, or any other area within a building, structure or combination thereof which is used for any purpose other than residential, wherein an alarm system is installed.
- REQUIRED OPERATIVE ALARM SYSTEM
- An alarm system which the owner of a premises is required to maintain in an operative condition pursuant to statute, law, ordinance, rule or regulation of any governmental entity.
- Hand-delivery by a representative of the Fire Department to the owner or authorized representative who responded to the premises. In the event the owner or authorized representative fails to respond to the premises within 30 minutes, "serve" shall mean placing the form or other matter in the United States mail, postage prepaid, addressed to the owner or authorized representative.
- SINGLE-STATION (RESIDENTIAL) SMOKE DETECTOR
- An assembly incorporating the detector, control equipment and alarm-sounding device in one unit operated from a power supply either in the unit or obtained at the point of installation.
- SMOKE DETECTOR
- A device which detects the visible or invisible particles of combustion.
Before any fire alarm system is installed, plans shall be submitted to the Codes and Inspections Office for approval before a fire alarm permit would be issued. No fire alarm system is to be installed without approval and the issuance of the fire alarm permit.
Every person who installs, owns, leases, possesses or operates any fire alarm system within the City shall notify the Deputy Fire Chief of the existence of said alarm system prior to the system being activated. It shall be the sole responsibility of the company which is installing any fire alarm system to provide the system owner with a copy of the most current City false alarm ordinance, a Notice of Existing Alarm Form and a completed copy of an Affidavit of Service/Repair. The Notice of Existing Alarm shall be completed by the owner and forwarded to the Deputy Fire Chief prior to the system being activated. Notice to the Deputy Fire Chief shall include the following information:
The name, address, business and home telephone number of the owner, lessee, operator, manager or person in possession of the premises wherein the alarm system is installed;
The name, address and telephone number of a minimum of two persons who can be notified by the enforcement official in the event of the activation of the alarm system, who shall be capable of responding to the premises within 30 minutes and who are authorized to enter the premises to ascertain the status thereof;
The date of activation of the alarm system;
The name, address and telephone number of the company contracted to service the alarm system.
The responsibility for a fire alarm activation shall be that of the owner of the premises in which the fire alarm system is installed. A response to an alarm activation shall result when any officer or member of the Fire Department shall be dispatched to the premises where the alarm has been activated or learns of the activation of the alarm system(s) by any means whatsoever and responds thereto by traveling to that premises. After responding to an alarm activation, the enforcement official shall notify any person identified in the notice required pursuant to § 180-2B of the activation of the alarm system, and such person shall thereupon travel to the premises to ascertain the status thereof. Should the person notified fail to appear at said premises within 30 minutes after being notified to do so, the City may charge the owner of the premises a fee of $75. The officer or member of the Fire Department who responded to said premises shall serve the owner or authorized representative a Fire Alarm Activation Notice. A Fire Alarm Activation Report detailing the incident will be mailed to the owner or authorized representative.
In the event of a fire alarm activation deemed by the fire official to be the result of a fire alarm malfunction, the owner will be served a Fire Alarm Activation Report by an officer of the Fire Department, indicating that the activation was deemed to be the result of a fire alarm malfunction. This would require the owner to return a completed Affidavit of Service/Repair within 21 calendar days of said alarm activation which can verify, to the satisfaction of the enforcement official, that the fire alarm system in question has actually been examined by a fire alarm technician and that a bona fide attempt has been made to identify and correct any defect of design, installation or operation of the fire alarm system which was identifiable as the cause of the fire alarm malfunction. Failure to return an Affidavit of Service/Repair within said twenty-one-day period which is satisfactory to the Deputy Fire Chief will result in assessment against the owner of a fee of $200 for the fire alarm malfunction.
No fee shall be assessed for the first two false fire alarms or fire alarm malfunctions at the same premises responded to by the Fire Department during each calendar year. Thereafter, the following fees shall be paid by the owner for each false fire alarm responded to by the Fire Department at the same premises during said calendar year.
As to all fire alarm malfunctions responded to by the Fire Department, the owner shall be assessed a fee of $200, unless there is returned to the Fire Department an Affidavit of Service/Repair deemed satisfactory by the Deputy Fire Chief. In those cases in which the owner provided the Deputy Fire Chief with a satisfactory Affidavit of Service/Repair, the two-hundred-dollar fee will be waived.
False fire alarms triggered by any components (such as pull stations, smoke detectors, heat detectors, water-flow alarms, tamper alarms, etc.) connected to the fire alarm system shall be counted in computing the total number of false alarms for purposes of this section.
In the event a violation of this article occurs, in addition to such other remedies as may be available under existing law, the City may institute an action in equity to prevent, restrain, correct, abate, or enjoin such violation.
Any person who violates any provision of this article, including failure to pay the required fees, shall be subject to the following penalties:
First violation in any calendar year: A fine of $100 or 30 days' imprisonment, or both; to be assessed along with the appropriate unpaid fees which are to be paid to the City.
Second violation in any calendar year for the same type violation: A fine of $300 or 45 days' imprisonment, or both; to be assessed along with the appropriate unpaid fees which are to be paid to the City.
Third violation in any calendar year for the same type violation: A fine of $500 or 60 days' imprisonment, or both; to be assessed along with the appropriate unpaid fees which are to be paid to the City.
Except for premises protected by a required operative alarm system, Fire Department officials are authorized to order the disconnecting or deactivation of any alarm system, by written notice to the owner of premises wherein an alarm system is installed, for any of the following reasons:
[Amended 2-11-2009 by Ord. No. 5161]
Failure to meet all requirements or pay the fees provided for in this article within 15 days of the charging of the fee;
Failure of the owner to provide a written Affidavit of Service/Repair required by this chapter;
A third false alarm or alarm malfunction at a premises for which a fee is charged pursuant to this article as the result of the failure of the owner to take corrective action to eliminate the cause of the false alarm; or
The failure of a person notified pursuant to this article to appear within 30 minutes after being notified to respond, if such failure to timely appear occurs four or more times within a calendar year.
The written notice to disconnect or deactivate shall be mailed to the owner and shall specify the date on which the owner shall be required to disconnect or deactivate the alarm system. This date shall be at least 15 days following the date of the notice. The owner may appeal the order of the Fire Department official pursuant to § 180-6.
An owner to whom a notice to disconnect or deactivate an alarm system was mailed pursuant to § 180-5 shall be entitled to appeal the order of the enforcement official to the Fire Chief or his designee. An appeal shall be in writing, stating the reasons why the order to disconnect or deactivate should be withdrawn, and shall be made within 15 days of the date receipt of the notice to disconnect. The Fire Chief or his designee shall review the facts and circumstances and shall determine whether the owner has shown good cause why the order should be withdrawn. In the event that the Fire Chief or his designee affirms the order to disconnect or deactivate an alarm system, the owner shall have five days following mailing receipt of the written rescission of the Fire Chief or his designee within which to comply with the order. The appeal of an order to disconnect or deactivate shall suspend the effective date of the order until the appeal has been acted upon by the Fire Chief or his designee.
It shall be unlawful for any person to fail to disconnect or deactivate an alarm system which has been ordered disconnected or deactivated pursuant to § 180-5, including those situations in which the Fire Chief or his designee affirmed the order to disconnect or deactivate, and it shall be unlawful for any person to reconnect an alarm system which has been disconnected or deactivated pursuant to the order of the enforcement official, unless reconnection of the alarm system is authorized pursuant to § 180-8. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall receive a penalty and other administrative remedies provided for in this article.
Any order to disconnect or deactivate an alarm system may be rescinded by the Fire Department enforcement official upon a finding by said enforcement official that the owner of the premises has taken corrective action to remedy the cause of the false alarms or alarm malfunctions at the premises. In making a request for such a rescission, the owner shall have the burden to show what corrective action has been taken and that same is sufficient to support a finding that the cause of the false alarms or alarm malfunctions has been remedied. The enforcement official shall have the right to inspect the alarm system and test same prior to rescinding the order to disconnect or deactivate. Before any reconnection of an alarm system, after the order to disconnect said system, the permits shall be issued and the fees paid. The enforcement official shall not rescind an order to disconnect or deactivate if the owner has failed to pay any fee charged the owner pursuant to this article.
It shall be unlawful for any person to install, maintain, operate or use any automatic telephone digital alarm communicator system within the City unless such system is currently listed by Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., and has been approved by the enforcement official.
All automatic telephone digital alarm communicator systems shall be connected to a central station alarm company and not the City Fire Department emergency phone lines.
The provisions of this article shall not apply to any newly installed alarm system for a period of 60 days from the date of the installation of that alarm system but shall apply from and after the expiration of the initial sixty-day period following installation.
The provisions of this article shall not apply to any existing fire alarm system for a period of 60 days from the date of adoption of this article.
The City, its officers, employees and agents shall not assume any duty or responsibility for the installation, maintenance, operation, repair or effectiveness of any privately owned alarm system, those duties or responsibilities being solely those of the owner of the premises. Additionally it shall be the responsibility of the owner of the premises to silence an activated alarm and thereafter reset same.
[Adopted 8-8-2001 by Ord. No. 3996 (Art. 731 of the 1965 Codified Ordinances)]
The following definitions shall apply in the interpretation and enforcement of this article:
- ALARM COMPANY
- Any person, firm, corporation, or entity that sells, leases and/or installs alarm systems and who is licensed to do business within the City and is registered with the City's Bureau of Codes.
- ALARM SYSTEM
- An electrically or electronically operated instrument composed of sensory devices and related apparatus which automatically transmits a signal by radio, telephone line, or other, by direct or indirect connection, to the City's Communication Center upon receipt of a stimulus from sensory devices which have detected a physical force or condition inherently characteristic of an intrusion, holdup, fire, medical, or other emergency situation at a single fixed premises or location.
- ALARM USER
- Any person, firm, partnership, corporation or other entity which owns, leases or is otherwise in control of an alarm user.
- AUDIBLE ALARM
- Any device, bell, horn or siren attached to the interior or exterior of a building and which emits a warning signal audible outside of the building and designed to attract attention when activated by a criminal act or other emergency requiring an immediate response by the Police Department, Fire Department or emergency squads; excluding, however, self-contained interior smoke or heat detectors, as determined by the appropriate responding agency.
- AUTOMATIC VOICE DIALERS
- Any electric, electronic, mechanical or other device capable of being programmed to send a prerecorded voice message when activated over a radio, telephone line or other communication system directly to the City's Communications Center.
- The City of Easton.
- CITY'S COMMUNICATIONS CENTER
- The Northampton County Emergency "911" Communications Center.
- FALSE ALARM
- The activation of an alarm system to which a public safety agency responds when a crime, fire or other emergency has not occurred; excluding, however, electrical storms, extreme weather conditions or power failures. Status of alarm shall be determined by police or appropriate departments.
- A central station alarm monitoring service or a telephone answering service owned by, contracted with, or otherwise serving an alarm company by notifying police or other appropriate departments of an alarm activation.
- To use a telephone line and equipment for transmitting a message directly or indirectly by an alarm system.
- OTHER APPROPRIATE DEPARTMENTS
- The Easton Fire Department, Easton Emergency Squad, or other emergency units appropriately responding to an alarm.
- Written permission, duly granted an applicant by the City upon payment of the required fee.
- PRIMARY TRUNK LINE
- A telephone line leading into the City's Communications Center that is for the purpose of handling emergency calls on a person-to-person basis, and which is identified as an emergency number, i.e., "911."
- SECONDARY TRUNK LINE
- A telephone line leading into the City's Communications Center that is for the purpose of handling administrative and other calls and is identified as a nonemergency number.
No person, firm, corporation or entity engaged in the business of alarm system sales, installation and/or service shall do business within the City without the proper business license and registration.
A business license shall be obtained from the City's License Office.
Registration shall be made at the Bureau of Codes, setting forth the following information:
Name, address and telephone number of the company's headquarters, along with the name of the chief executive officer.
Name, address, and telephone number of the company's local office, if different from Subsection C(1) hereof, along with the name of the person in charge.
Exact nature of the business.
Registration shall be updated by the applicant whenever any of the stated information changes.
List of installations required. Within 90 days of the effective date of this article, every alarm company that has installed an alarm system within the City shall furnish to the Easton Police Department and the Bureau of Codes a current list of such installations, in writing, which shall contain the following information:
The name, address and telephone number of the owner or lessee of the alarm system;
The address and the telephone number for the location of the alarm system, if different from Subsection E(1) above.
By the fifth working day of each month, every alarm company shall furnish a written list containing the above information for any additional installations within the City, along with any deletions from or corrections to lists previously furnished. An alarm company that enters into business after the effective date of this article shall furnish a list containing the above specified information by the fifth working day of the month following a first installation and thereafter as required by this section.
Repair service. Each alarm company that sells or leases alarm systems shall make service for that system available to the customer, directly or through an agent, on a twenty-four-hour-per-day basis, seven days a week, to repair such system or to correct any malfunction that may occur. Such service may be made to any alarm user at such user's election and expense. At the time of installation, an alarm company shall furnish to any alarm user electing to use a repair service written information as to how service may be obtained, including the telephone numbers of the alarm company or agent responsible for service. The alarm user shall be responsible for having the alarm system disconnected or repaired as quickly as possible after discovering that the alarm system is not functioning properly.
Technical information. Every alarm company doing business in the City shall furnish written operating instructions, a circuit diagram and maintenance instructions, including guidelines on how to avoid a false alarm, to the alarm user. Every alarm company shall also notify the alarm user, in writing, that they are subject to the terms and conditions of the City's Emergency Alarm Ordinance.
Service notifications. The alarm company shall notify the City's Communications Center prior to installing or working on an alarm system and again upon completion of said installation or service. An activation received during the out-of-service period may be verified but will not constitute a false alarm. An activation during installation or service, without proper notification, to which police or other appropriate departments respond, will be a violation of this article.
Within 90 days from the effective date of this article and prior to the date of activation for each new alarm system that is installed hereafter, every alarm user shall provide the Bureau of Codes with a registration of that alarm system on the Bureau's registration form, which shall include the following information:
The name, street address and telephone number of the alarm user.
If a business, the street address and telephone number where the alarm system is located.
The names, addresses and telephone numbers of at least two persons, in addition to the alarm user, who are authorized and have agreed to respond to an alarm within 30 minutes and provide access to the address where the alarm system is installed.
Such information shall be kept current by the alarm user, and changes shall be made in writing prior to or on the effective date of the change.
The name of the alarm company providing the alarm service.
The type of protection the alarm system provides.
Alarm users shall equip audible alarms with a timing mechanism that will disengage the audible alarm after a maximum period of 10 minutes. Exception shall be made for Underwriters Laboratory certified alarm systems requiring longer-sounding alarms for insurance purposes, providing that certification and policy requirements are documented at the time the alarm permit is applied for and maintained, and further providing that these alarms are equipped with timers to disengage the audible alarm after the minimum amount of time required for certification. Audible alarms without the required timing mechanism shall be unlawful in the City, and shall comply or be disconnected by the alarm user within 60 days of the effective date of this article.
No person shall install or use an audible alarm which, when activated, sounds similar to a siren used by emergency vehicles or for civil defense purposes.
No person shall install or use an automatic voice dialer.
Installation or service notification. The alarm user shall notify the City's Commissions Center prior to installing, repairing, servicing, altering, replacing or removing any alarm systems or portions thereof. Upon completion of work, that same party shall notify the City's Communications Center that the alarm system is back in service. An activation sounded or received during this notification period will not constitute a false alarm.
False alarm reports required. Upon notification of a false alarm received by the City's Communications Center, a written report shall be made by the alarm user within 10 days to the Easton Police Department, or other appropriate department, and shall contain what steps have been taken to eliminate future false alarms.
Response upon notification. Any person listed as an emergency contact on the emergency alarm registration, including the alarm user, shall promptly proceed to the address registered when notified by the City's Communications Center and/or the alarm company that an alarm system has been activated there and render necessary assistance, including, if required, the opening of the premises so that the building may be searched by police responding to the alarm.
Discontinuance of service. Whenever a business with an alarm system ceases to exist, or a residence or building is vacated, each alarm system shall be disconnected by the alarm user, and the Easton Police Department or other appropriate departments shall be notified, in writing, prior to or upon the effective date that the alarm system is to be disconnected; providing, however, that protection need not be interrupted as long as emergency contacts listed in the emergency alarm registration remain in effect.
Permit required. The alarm user shall secure a permit from the Bureau of Codes for each address when an alarm system is to be installed prior to installation. A permit will include an acknowledgment of intent to comply with all provisions of this article and a comprehensive disclaimer for the City in the event of any death, injury or property loss, etc., due to any equipment failure, or failure on the part of the alarm user, or any other liability that might be incurred because of the presence of such an alarm system, for which the alarm user shall place his legal signature upon and a copy thereof provided to all appropriate departments. Alarm systems installed prior to the effective date of this article shall, within 60 days of the effective date of this article, comply with this section. All alarm systems shall comply with the City's electrical code and any other applicable codes.
The alarm user shall bear the ultimate responsibility for compliance with this article, except as herein noted, and for the use, care, maintenance and operation of said alarm system.
[Amended 2-11-2009 by Ord. No. 5161]
The Director of Finance shall establish reasonable fees from time to time for the emergency alarm registration and for all permits and licenses to be issued in accordance with this article.
Registration of an alarm system is not intended to, nor will it, create a contract, duty or obligation, either expressed or implied, of response. Any and all liability and consequential damage resulting from the failure to respond to a notification is hereby disclaimed and governmental immunity as provided by law is retained. By registering an alarm system, the alarm user acknowledges that police response may be based on factors such as availability of police units, priority of call, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions, and staffing levels.
False alarms prohibited.
Title 18, Pennsylvania Crimes Code, Section 7511(c), establishes precedence for regulation of false alarms and reads, in part, "A person that owns, uses, or possesses an alarm device . . . may not, after causing or permitting three false alarms to occur in a consecutive twelve-month period, cause or permit a subsequent false alarm to occur in the same consecutive twelve-month period. A person that violates this paragraph commits a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $300." All false alarm violations will be charged under provisions of 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 7511.
Other violations. All persons who violate any other section of this article not covered above will, upon conviction, be guilty of a summary offense, and be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $300. Each day that a violation continues shall constitute a separate offense.
In the event a violation of this article occurs, in addition to such other remedies as may be available under existing law, the City may institute an action in equity to prevent, restrain, correct, abate or enjoin such violation.
This section shall not pertain to audible alarms installed in motor vehicles.