[HISTORY: Adopted by the Common Council of the City of St. Francis as §§ 9.24 and 9.50 of the 1981 Code. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to allow businesses in the City of St. Francis to have alarm connections with the City Police and Fire Departments, as well as to provide minimum standards and regulations applicable to burglar, fire and holdup alarm systems, alarm businesses and alarm users. Both society in general and public safety in particular will be aided by providing a useful and usable system of private security which properly balances quick response by the Fire and Police Departments with minimization of time spent on alarms which are false or otherwise not the intended function of private security systems.
In this chapter, the following terms, phrases and words and their derivations have the meanings given herein:
- ALARM BUSINESS
- Any business in which the owners or employees engage in the activity of altering, installing, leasing, maintaining, repairing, replacing, selling, or servicing alarm systems.
- ALARM SYSTEM
- An assembly of equipment and devices or a single device, such as a solid-state unit which plugs directly into a one-hundred-ten-volt AC line or otherwise receives electrical energy, arranged to signal the presence of a hazard requiring urgent attention and to which the St. Francis Fire or Police Department is expected to respond. The term "alarm system" shall include the terms "automatic holdup alarm system," "burglar alarm system" and "manual holdup alarm system" as those terms are hereinafter defined and fire alarm systems which monitor temperature, humidity or any other condition directly related to the detection of fire. Excluded from this definition are alarm systems used to alert or signal persons within the premises in which the alarm system is located of an attempted unauthorized intrusion or holdup attempt or fire.
- The instrumentation on an alarm console at the receiving terminal of a signal line through which both visual and audible signals show when an alarm device at a particular location has been activated or which, in the event of malfunction, may also indicate line trouble.
- ANSWERING SERVICE
- A telephone answering service providing among its services the service of receiving on a continuous basis, through trained employees, emergency signals from alarm systems and thereafter immediately relaying the message by live voice to the dispatch center of the St. Francis Police Department.
- AUTOMATIC DIALING DEVICE
- An alarm system which automatically sends over regular telephone lines, by direct connection or otherwise, a prerecorded voice message or coded signal indicating the existence of the emergency situation that the alarm system is designed to detect.
- AUTOMATIC HOLDUP ALARM SYSTEM
- An alarm system in which the signal transmission is initiated by the action of the robber.
- BURGLAR ALARM SYSTEM
- An alarm system which signals an entry or attempted entry into the area protected by the system.
- CENTRAL STATION
- An office to which remote alarm and supervisory signaling devices are connected, where operators supervise the circuits.
- DIRECT CONNECT
- An alarm system which has the capability of transmitting system signals to the St. Francis Police Department.
- FALSE ALARM
- The activation of an alarm system through mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation, or the negligence of the owner or lessee of an alarm system or of his employees or agents or other undetermined cause. "False alarm" does not include alarms caused by tornadoes, other violent climatic conditions, or other excusable causes as determined by the Fire or Police Chief.
- To connect an alarm system to a voice-grade telephone line, either directly or through a mechanical device that utilizes a standard telephone, for the purpose of using the telephone line to transmit an emergency message upon the activation of the alarm system.
- MANUAL HOLDUP ALARM SYSTEM
- An alarm system in which the signal transmission is initiated by the direct action of a person.
- PRIMARY TRUNK LINE
- A telephone line leading directly into the dispatch center of the St. Francis Fire or Police Department that is for the purpose of handling emergency calls on a person-to-person basis and which is identified as such by a specific number included among the emergency numbers listed in the telephone directory, or numbers in sequence therewith.
- A person who buys or leases or otherwise obtains an alarm system and thereafter contracts with or hires an alarm business to monitor and/or service the alarm system.
No person shall interconnect any automatic dialing device to the St. Francis Fire or Police Department primary trunk line. Any such devices interconnected before March 28, 1986, shall be disconnected within 30 days of such date. Such devices may be connected to a central station or an answering service. Any messages so received shall be relayed to the St. Francis Fire and Police Department person to person by telephone.
The Fire and Police Chiefs may, on behalf of the City, contract with an alarm business for installation of a master system. Such master system shall be installed according to the direction of the Police Chief. Each such contract shall not run for more than five years. Each such contract shall provide that such system shall be installed at no cost to the City, and the City shall not be liable for any damage to such system.
No alarm business shall remove the master system without six months' prior notice to its subscribers and the City. The alarm business chosen shall permit, through intercompany agreements, other alarm businesses to terminate alarms to the master system.
Individual businesses, public or private schools, and other municipal and institutional premises that desire to have direct connections must contract separately with the provider of the master system. This service shall be available only to the above and not to residences or apartments. Where a business is combined with a residence in one building (excluding purely residential residence rental business), an alarm system for the business portion may be directly connected.
It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to install an alarm system unless a permit has been applied for and granted. This applies to all types of alarms, whether the signal leaves the premises or not, if the alarm would alert anyone outside the building visually, audibly or electronically. All alarm systems installed within the City shall have the Underwriters' Laboratories, Inc., or comparable organization approval. The Fire or Police Chief may grant an exception to this requirement when the alarm system is under testing by the above, in which case the alarm system may be installed for a period not to exceed six months and shall then be removed or disconnected unless an extension of time is granted by the Fire or Police Chief or the testing agency's approval has, where applicable, been received. The alarm subscriber, in the permit application, shall provide the names and telephone numbers of at least two persons who can be reached at any time, day or night, and who are authorized to respond to an emergency signal transmitted by the alarm system and who can open the premises wherein the device is installed.
Any person, firm or corporation must first apply for and obtain a permit from City Hall before installing an alarm system.
The fee for such permit shall be a one-time charge as provided by the current fee schedule on file with the City Clerk, except for those persons holding a valid permit as of July 5, 1988, who shall pay no additional fees.
Should the permit holder change or, after a period of disconnection, reapply for a permit the fee stated in Subsection A above must be paid.
Every permit holder shall furnish the Chief of Police an updated list of emergency call numbers and such other information as deemed necessary for a proper police response no later then January 31 of each year. If there is not a valid permit applied for, any direct connections to the master system shall be disconnected. If the permit is for a fire alarm system, such permit application shall be signed by the Fire Chief before the permit shall be issued. Any person, firm or corporation holding a permit issued prior to July 5, 1988, shall not be required to reapply or pay any additional fees but shall be subject to Subsection B above and the informational requirements of this subsection. Failure to provide timely information shall cause such license to expire.
Where the owner of an alarm system that is directly connected wishes to test such system, he shall first notify the St. Francis Police Department by telephone of such testing. The test shall be completed within 15 minutes of such notification.
Determination of whether an alarm is false or excusable shall be made by the Fire or Police Chief.
There shall be no charge for the first five false alarms. After the fifth such alarm, a letter shall be sent to the permit applicant, by first-class mail, warning that there shall be a service charge imposed on every further false alarm.
If within a calendar year of any false alarms there are:
The service charge shall be billed by the Police Department to the person or entity in charge of the alarm system. If such person is an owner of the pertinent real estate and if the invoice for service is not paid within 90 days from the mailing of the invoice, the amount of such invoice shall constitute a lien upon the real property affected and shall be collected as a special assessment against real estate in connection with the collection of general real estate taxes, if allowed by law. The City may use any legal means to effectuate collection. Also, upon the expiration of such 90 days unpaid, the Police Chief shall, upon 10 days' notice in writing, disconnect any direct connection. Reconnection of such will occur only upon full payment and reapplication.
Any false alarms within the first 30 days of a new installation of an alarm system shall not be counted in any way toward either the above service charge or the number of alarms in the above service charge.
The City of St. Francis shall be under no duty or obligation to a subscriber or to any other person concerning any provision of this chapter, including but not limited to any defects in an alarm system or any delays in transmission or response to any alarm; however, this in no way shall be construed that it is not the proper function of the Fire or Police Department to respond to alarms.
Any person who shall violate any provision of this chapter shall be subject to a penalty as provided in § 1-4 of this Code.