[HISTORY: Adopted by the Borough Council of the Borough of Lehighton 4-23-2007 by Ord. No. 2007-548. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Editor's Note: This ordinance superseded former Ch. 47, Alarm Systems, adopted 4-23-1990 by Ord. No. 394.
Borough Council of the Borough of Lehighton finds and declares that:
The majority of emergency alarms to which Borough police and emergency personnel respond are false. Such alarms are nuisances resulting in enormous waste of manpower and could cause serious injury to those emergency personnel who may be responding to a false alarm and further, when said personnel are responding to a false alarm, they are not available to be protecting the citizens of the Borough of Lehighton.
The danger to citizens through emergency responses created by nuisance alarms are unnecessary and hazardous.
The unnecessary waste of tax dollars through responses to nuisance alarms must be eliminated.
Nuisance alarms have created conditions causing danger and annoyance to the general public.
The purpose of this chapter is to insure that installation, maintenance and function of alarm devices result in effectively providing the protection desired without resulting in excessive response by emergency service providers to nonemergency signals. It is intended to apply to all alarm systems which automatically transmit external information, requests for assistance, or audible external alarms, intended to summon emergency response by public emergency service providers to permanently fixed locations.
The following definitions shall apply in 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 device designed or used for detection of intrusion into a building, structure or facility, or for alerting persons in the attempt or commission of a crime or any emergency situation involving potential death or serious injury and which is directly related to an audible alarm or the transmission of a related signal or message which is used to evoke an emergency response to any address or separate component of any system. Such signals may be audible alarms or connected to automatic dialing devices, a central station or answering service.
- ANSWERING SERVICE
- A service whereby intermediary individuals receive prerecorded voice messages from automatic dialing devices reporting an emergency at a stated location, where such individuals have the duty to relay by live voice any such emergency message over a trunk line to the communications center of the emergency service providers.
- 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.
- 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 that indicates that an emergency condition exists and an emergency response is expected.
- The Borough of Lehighton.
- CENTRAL STATION
- An arrangement or system or group of such systems operated privately by a person, firm or corporation which accepts recorded messages or electronically transmitted signals from automatic devices and having operators or individuals who are expected to take appropriate action upon receipt of a signal or message, including the relaying of messages to the communications center of the police, Fire Department, emergency medical or rescue services.
- An individual appointed by and accountable directly and solely to the Lehighton Borough Council. This individual shall be appointed from time to time by Borough Council. Until any other individual is appointed, the coordinator shall be the Chief of Police of Lehighton Borough and the Lehighton Borough Police Department.
- A police, fire hazard, medical, or rescue emergency.
- EMERGENCY SERVICES PROVIDERS
- Those agencies contracted by the Borough directly or indirectly to provide emergency services for Lehighton Borough.
- A. An alarm activated in the absence of an emergency, whether willfully or by inadvertence, negligence, or unintentional act, to which emergency units respond. The definition excludes alarms caused by malfunctions of the County Telecommunications Center receiving equipment; alarms for which the user has attempted to cancel response; testing or repairing of telephone or electrical lines or equipment outside the premises; acts of God, such as earthquake, flood, windstorm, thunder, or lightning; an attempted illegal entry; a crime in progress, or, in the case of emergency medical alarm, an actual medical emergency requiring police, fire and/or medical personnel. If doubt exists as to the cause of the false alarm the provider of the emergency service together with the Borough Fire Chief or designated coordinator shall make a decision regarding the circumstances of the activation.
- B. Multiple alarms received before the system can be deactivated or repaired within a reasonable period of time shall be considered a single alarm. Multiple emergency service providers dispatched as the result of an alarm shall be considered a single alarm response.
- C. The definition of a false alarm also includes the intentional activation of a hold-up alarm for other than a hold-up 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 contracted Borough companies and their designated backup units.
- FIRE EMERGENCY
- A fire or smoke or heat conditions indicating a fire.
- HAZARD EMERGENCY
- An explosion, leak of toxic gas, liquid, or solid, or a potential explosion or leak.
- A central station 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.
- POLICE DEPARTMENT
- The designated police department to service the Borough.
- POLICE EMERGENCY
- An incident requiring prompt response by the Police Department.
- POLICE AND FIRE COMMUNICATIONS CENTER
- The police and fire communications rooms and other rooms which house communications equipment and a radio dispatcher.
- A written form duly submitted by an applicant to the Borough upon payment of the required fee.
- RESCUE SQUAD
- The contracted Lehighton Borough rescue squad emergency service provider.
- TRUNK LINE
- 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.
- UNEXPLAINED ALARM
- An alarm which cannot be reasonable determined to be a false alarm and is in the absence of an obvious emergency.
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 Borough and must be disconnected by the owner or user within 60 days from the effective date of this chapter.
On and after the effective date of this chapter, all automatic dialing devices that transmit recorded messages to the County Telecommunications Center radio room shall be keyed to telephone lines separate and distinct from the trunk lines for the communications center.
All alarm systems require registration on a form provided by the Borough. The registration forms will be kept in the Borough Office and copies will be given to the Lehighton Borough Police, fire companies, rescue companies and ambulance services as appropriate. The registration form will provide suggested instructions on composing telephone automatic tape dialer messages to give information accurately for systems using dialers.
All information furnished by the registration forms shall be kept confidential and shall be for the use of authorized emergency providers only.
Prior to installation of any alarm system covered by this chapter, the alarm supplier or user must register the alarm system at the Borough Office. The registration will continue in effect until the system is substantially revised or replaced at which time a new registration will be required.
Any alarm from an unregistered alarm system will trigger the registration thereof within 10 days or must be disconnected until registration occurs.
By registering the installation of an alarm system or the subsequent installation of such a system or by the continued use of an alarm system already installed at the effective date of this chapter, the owner, lessee or user thereof shall agree that such registration or use constitutes a waiver by such person of the right to bring or file any action, claim or complaint whatsoever against any police officer, fireman, or other authorized emergency service provider who, using their reasonable and best judgment, makes a forced entry in response to such alarm into the premises on which such an alarm is installed.
All registrations must be accompanied by a fee of $10 payable to Lehighton Borough. Registration or fees will not be required for the following systems: a battery-powered (9 volt, 11.2 volt, or similar voltage) audible alarm system or an electrically energized audible alarm system whose sole purpose is to notify the occupants of that location of an emergency situation shall be exempt from the registration requirements of this chapter 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.
Registration fees will be retained in the Lehighton Borough fund to defray the cost of administering this chapter.
The public safety requires that the incidence of alarms and malfunctioning automatic dialing devices be kept to a minimum so as to reduce unnecessary calls to the emergency service providers and to increase the effectiveness of properly functioning alarm systems. In order to enforce this and to reduce the incidence of false alarms and malfunctioning alarm systems it is necessary that appropriate Borough officials have the right to inspect the installation and operation of any alarm system installed in the Borough.
Registration of or subsequent installation of such a system or the continuance of the use of any alarm system already installed at the effective date of this chapter shall constitute consent by the owner or lessee thereof and authorization for the inspection of any such installation and/or operation by the designated Borough coordinator.
All such entries upon the premises where an alarm system is installed and all such inspection of the installation and operation of alarm systems shall be at reasonable times and upon reasonable notice, except in emergency situations.
Each alarm supplier who, after the effective date of this chapter, sells or leases in the Borough an alarm system shall furnish operating instructions and a descriptive maintenance and repair manual to the buyer or lessee.
All new alarm installations shall:
Use only equipment that is listed by Underwriter's Laboratories, Inc., as being electrically safe and meeting the Borough requirements for the alarm system. Wiring for alarm systems must conform with all applicable Borough codes. In the case of fire alarms, the stricter of the NFPA standards or Borough codes shall apply.
Be provided with standby battery power which shall automatically and immediately take over in the event of power failure.
Be installed in such a way as to neutralize electrical surges on the alarm system and use direct grounding.
All users of automatic signal notification systems shall display easily readable house numbers or name signs in the immediate vicinity of their property to facilitate location by emergency service providers responding to automatic alarms.
The Borough Council shall appoint a designated coordinator to administer this chapter. Periodically or as requested, but not less than once per year, the coordinator will review records or other information made available by emergency service providers to determine locations experiencing alarm responses. If, in the coordinator's best judgment, it is determined that any or all of the responses constitute excessive and/or unexplained or false alarms, the coordinator shall proceed as follows:
Excessive alarms (more than four in any calendar year. Although excessive alarms may be all legitimate alarms, the fact that a high number are being experienced at a given location is cause for consideration of corrective action by the owner. In such cases the coordinator may make direct contact or refer the matter to other agencies such as the Fire Chief, Building Inspector, or other appropriate agency who may investigate possible violations of established ordinances or who may make recommendations to the owner to improve the circumstances causing excessive alarms. The coordinator will not impose penalties in such cases.
False or unexplained alarms.
If the coordinator determines that any alarm is a false alarm, the coordinator shall immediately notify the owner or occupant in writing by registered mail of such finding and warn that continued violations will result in the penalties prescribed by this chapter.
If the coordinator determines that the alarms constitute unexplained alarms, after two such alarms in a twelve-month period, the coordinator shall notify the owner or occupant as in Subsetion B(1) above.
For the purposes of defraying the costs of responding to false alarms and unexplained alarms, the owner, lessee or user of any alarm system, persons using the services of an intermediary, users of audible alarms and users of any other kind of alarm systems or any other kind of direct or indirect connection with emergency service providers except persons using two-way live voice communication by telephone, shall, as a condition to registration and continued operation of such equipment or service, agree that such owner, lessee or user shall pay the Borough for all false or unexplained alarms originating from the owner's, lessee's or users premises as follows:
False alarms or unexplained alarms.
First false alarm: warning.
Second and third false alarms per calendar year: $50 for each occurrence.
Fourth and subsequent false alarms per calendar year: $100 for each alarm.
More than five false alarms shall result in revocation of the registration and request that the system be disconnected.
All penalties assessed by the coordinator are due and payable within 10 days at the Borough Office after receipt of the penalty notification.
Monetary penalties collected by the Borough under this chapter will be transmitted to the emergency service providers responding to the alarm which resulted in the penalty. Fees and penalties prescribed by this chapter may from time to time be revised by the Borough Council by resolution at a public meeting.
Any such owner, lessee or user who fails to execute the registration described in § 47-5, within 90 days from the effective date of this chapter shall, within the ninety-day period, disconnect the alarm system.
An alarm user whose registration has been revoked may apply for a probationary registration. Such probationary registration shall not be given until the coordinator is satisfied that the user's system has been properly serviced and is operating correctly. If the alarm user does not have four or more false or unexplained alarms in a calendar year, he may apply for a permanent registration. The probationary registration must be renewed each twelve-month period at a fee of $50. The penalties described in § 47-11 will apply to alarm systems under probationary registration.
Any user subject to the provisions of this chapter may appeal any notification of the coordinator by written notice to the Borough Office with 10 days of such notification and request a hearing. Such hearings shall be conducted within 30 days by the Borough Council. The Borough Council, by majority vote, may modify the findings or penalties assessed by the coordinator within the limits of this chapter.
Any person, firm or corporation who shall violate any provision of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be subject to pay a fine of not less than $300 and not more than $600, and in default of payment, to imprisonment for a term not to exceed 30 days. Each day that a violation of this chapter continues shall constitute a separate offense. This penalty provision shall apply to any violation of this chapter other than those violations covered under § 47-11.