[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Town Commissioners of the Town of Bel Air as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Fire prevention — See Ch. 204.
[Adopted 3-11-1980 by Ord. No. 310 as Ch. 11, Art. 4 of the 1980 Code]
For the purposes of this article, the following definitions shall apply:
- ALARM DEVICE
- Any device which, when activated, is intended to transmit a signal directly or indirectly to request police services to respond on an emergency basis. Such devices include any device which emits an audible signal at or near the exterior of the protected premises, or which transmits a request for police services to a private or government-operated central alarm station for the purpose of relaying a request for such services, or which transmits a request for emergency services directly to a police agency. This definition does not include any alarm device installed in any motor vehicle.
- ALARM USER
- Any business, commercial entity, partnership, public/private institution, or government upon whose premises an alarm device is installed within the Town of Bel Air.
- BOARD OF TOWN COMMISSIONERS
- The governing body of the Town of Bel Air.
- CHIEF OF POLICE
- The Chief of Police of the Town of Bel Air.
- FALSE ALARM
- The activation of an alarm device that results in the response by police personnel to any alarm user's premises within the Town of Bel Air where no police emergency services are required, as determined by such police personnel after investigation. A false alarm shall not include alarm signals that result from hurricane, gale, tornado or other violent weather condition, earthquake or any major disruption of electric, telephone or other public utility transmission. In addition, if an alarm company notifies the police before an officer arrives on the premises that the alarm is sounding in error, it shall not be designated as a false alarm.
- POLICE DEPARTMENT
- The Town of Bel Air Police Department.
All alarm users in the Town of Bel Air, as defined above, shall obtain an alarm application from the Bel Air Police Department. Each individual alarm user within the same address site of a multi-tenant building must complete an alarm application. Applications forms, as prescribed by the Chief of Police, shall provide the following information:
The name, address and telephone number of the intended alarm user.
The location of the alarm device.
A description of the type of alarm device to be installed.
The address to which notices required under this article shall be sent.
The name, address and telephone number of two persons that may be contacted at any time of the day or night and who are authorized by the alarm user to enter the premises.
All information provided by an applicant shall be treated as confidential, shall not be deemed a public record, and shall not be used for any purpose other than to carry out the provisions of this article or to provide emergency services to alarm users.
An alarm user registration shall not be transferable. The registration shall be kept on file in the alarm user's premises and shall be made available for inspection upon demand by any Bel Air Police Department personnel. All registrations shall be deemed terminated upon the relocation, sale or transfer of possession of the affected premises to a new owner or occupant.
In addition to any other requirements, an applicant for any business, commercial entity, partnership, public/private institution, or government alarm device which shall have the capability to transmit a request for emergency services on any urgent basis in the event of medical emergency, crime in progress or other extreme emergency shall provide written permission authorizing police personnel to forcibly enter the premises without notice to the alarm user whenever the alarm is activated.
Wherever a responding police official shall determine that a false alarm has been transmitted, a written report shall be submitted by such officer to the Bel Air Chief of Police stating the name of the business, commercial entity, partnership, public/private institution or government, address, telephone number, and registration number, if any, of the alarm user, together with a statement of the circumstances surrounding such alarm and the officer's opinion as to the likely cause.
No alarm user registration shall be issued for any alarm device which shall emit an uninterrupted audible signal for a period longer than 15 minutes. Police or fire personnel responding to audible alarms are hereby authorized to disable the same without liability for any damage to such device if the audible signal shall sound for more than 15 minutes without interruption. Any such alarm device which has a mechanism to reset such alarm shall be equipped so that successive sounding of the alarm device shall be limited to no more than three fifteen-minute intervals. The sounding of such alarm device for more than 15 minutes or for more than three fifteen-minute intervals shall be considered a false alarm whether or not an actual emergency triggered such device.
No alarm user registration shall be issued unless the following requirements are met:
The alarm user's premises shall display a building number or name sufficiently sized or illuminated by street or other lighting so as to be clearly visible from the street frontage.
All alarm devices shall be equipped with a standby power source sufficient to maintain the device in an armed state for at least eight hours in the event of a power failure.
No direct connection with the Bel Air Police Department shall be permitted unless authorized by the Chief of Police.
[Amended 11-17-2008 by Ord. No. 715-08]
If the Police Department responds to more than two false alarms at the premises of an alarm user, that alarm user shall be charged a fine. The fine is based on the number of false alarms at that alarm user's premises during each calendar year and is as follows: for each calendar year, each alarm user shall receive a written warning for the first and second false alarm; the fines thereafter for the remainder of each calendar year shall be set by resolution of the Board of Town Commissioners.
Any alarm user who shall install or have installed an alarm device in the Town of Bel Air without completing an alarm application shall be subject to an additional fine in the amount as set by resolution of the Board of Town Commissioners per activation (over the fine stated in Subsection A) after the first alarm notice. The additional fine will be imposed per activation until an alarm application has been received by the Bel Air Police Department. All new alarm users have 30 days from the time of initial installation of an alarm system to complete an alarm application with the Town of Bel Air.
The Chief of Police or his designee shall determine whether a false alarm has occurred and the frequency of such false alarms. The alarm user will be notified by the police communication section each time an alarm occurs. The Director of Finance or her designee shall notify the alarm user of amounts owed to the Town and shall make demand therefor, pursuant to the provisions of this section.
Invoices for false alarm fines are to be paid within 30 days of the invoice date and deemed delinquent if not paid. Delinquent false alarm fines shall bear interest at the rate of 1.5% per month until paid.
False alarm fines for alarm users who are owners of the premises on which a false alarm occurs shall be treated in the same manner as property taxes for enforcement of payments as provided in Chapter 50, § 50-3 of the Town Code. Any administrative costs or legal fines the Town incurs in the collection of the fines shall be the responsibility of the alarm user.
Tenants who have installed alarm systems shall be responsible for false alarm fines. Nonpayment of fines (90 days in arrears) by tenants shall be a municipal infraction and any violator shall be fined the amount of the unpaid false alarm fines, including interest, plus any administrative costs or legal fees the Town incurs in the collection of the fines.
The Town may proceed by a suit in a court of competent jurisdiction to collect said fines after demand therefor has been made by the Town and payment thereof refused by the alarm user.
Fines will be deposited to the general fund.
[Amended 11-17-2008 by Ord. No. 715-08]
The Chief of Police shall have the authority to revoke or refuse to issue or renew any alarm user's registration if the alarm user fails to pay outstanding fines. Fines that are outstanding for 90 days shall be grounds for revocation of registration. Once the account has been paid, in full, the Chief of Police shall issue the alarm user's registration within 15 days of receiving an application.
It shall be an affirmative defense to any prosecution for maintaining an alarm device without registration if the alarm user charged has submitted a duly completed application to the Chief of Police within 30 days from the date when served with such violation notice.
The Chief of Police shall have no authority to revoke or refuse to issue any alarm user registration to any alarm user which is required by any federal, state or local law to maintain an alarm device in premises within the Town of Bel Air. However, all other provisions of this article shall be applicable with respect to any civil or criminal penalty which may apply.
[Adopted 3-11-1980 by Ord. No. 310 as § 11-302 of the 1980 Code]
Fire alarm systems within the Town are hereby regulated under the provisions of Harford County Code Chapter 84, Article II, titled "Fire Alarm Systems," §§ 84-2 through 84-6, which shall be enforced within the Town in the same manner, by the same officials and with the same effect as in unincorporated areas of Harford County, and all persons within the Town shall be required to abide by said provisions in the manner provided in said County Code.