§ 10-5. Alarm control


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  • (a) Definitions. Unless it is clear from the context that another meaning is intended, the following words, when used in this section, shall have the meaning attributed to them by this subsection.

    Alarm malfunction means the activation of any fire or security alarm, which results in the response of the fire or police department, caused by mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation or design, or lack of proper maintenance, or if the responding agencies are unable to determine the apparent cause of the alarm activation.

    Alarm system means any mechanical, electrical or radio controlled device which is designed to be used for the detection of smoke, heat or fire or an unauthorized entry into a building, structure or facility, or for alerting others to the commission of an unlawful act within a building, structure or facility, and which emits a sound or transmits a signal or message when activated. Excluded from this definition are devices that do not register alarms that are audible or visible and that do not otherwise communicate outside of the protected building, structure or facility; auxiliary devices installed by telephone companies to protect telephone systems from damage or disruption of services; and alarm systems installed in conveyances for the exclusive protection of such conveyances. Alarms that indicate malfunctions in public utilities are also excluded from this definition.

    Exception No. 1: A single station (residential) smoke alarm shall not be deemed to be an alarm system under this chapter provided the alarm signal is local to the immediate area(s) and does not transmit a signal or other notification to a separate location.

    Exception No. 2: Two (2) or more single-station detectors may be interconnected to each other and not considered to be a fire alarm system, as shall be determined solely by the enforcing official.

    Alarm technician means any person who is authorized to inspect, install, repair or perform maintenance on a fire alarm or security alarm system, or other alarm system designed for the purpose of having fire suppression or law enforcement personnel respond to the premises, under licensure of the State of Florida.

    Alarm user means the person, firm, business, partnership, association, corporation or other entity who owns the premises in which an alarm system is installed or who leases, manages or otherwise occupies the premises and is responsible for the proper operation and working condition of the alarm system.

    Authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) means the Haines City Police Department or the Haines City Fire Department as may be appropriate for the specific alarm system.

    Automatic telephone digital alarm communicator system means any automatic communication device or automatic telephone dialing alarm system which, upon being activated, automatically transmits to any telephone in any facility of the City of Haines City Police Department or Haines City Fire Department, a recorded message or coded signal indicating the need for am emergency response.

    Enforcement official means the police chief or fire chief of the City of Haines City or his/her designated representative.

    False alarm means an activated alarm that elicits a response by the Haines City Fire and Rescue when no fire, reasonable threat of a fire, or other emergency requiring the services of the fire department exists, or that elicits a response by the Haines City Police Department when no criminal activity, reasonable threat of criminal activity, unauthorized entry or other emergency requiring the services of the police department exists.

    This definition includes signals activated by accident, negligence, mechanical failure, electrical failure, signals activated intentionally in non-emergency situations and signals for which the actual cause of activation is unknown. A rebuttal "presumption" shall exist that an alarm is false if, personnel from the fire department find no evidence of a fire, reasonable threat of a fire, or other emergency requiring the services of the fire department after following normal operating procedures or, in the case of a security alarm, personnel from the police department find no evidence of an unauthorized entry, criminal activity, a reasonable threat of criminal activity, or another emergency requiring the services of the police department after following normal operating procedures. This "presumption" may be overruled if the alarm user proves that:

    (1) In the case of a fire alarm, an individual activated the alarm based upon a reasonable belief that a fire, reasonable threat of a fire, or another emergency requiring the services of the fire department actually existed; or

    (2) In case of a security alarm, an individual activated the alarm based upon a reasonable belief that an unauthorized entry, criminal activity, a reasonable threat of criminal activity, or another emergency requiring the services of the police department actually existed; or

    (3) The alarm system was activated by lightning or an electrical surge that caused physical damage to the alarm system, as evidenced by the testimony of a state-certified or registered alarm system technician who conducted an on-site inspection of the system; or

    (4) The alarm system was activated by some other cause beyond the alarm user's reasonable control.

    (Note: As sections (3) and (4) above relates to a fire alarm system, these sections do not relieve the system owner from complying with other existing Florida Fire Prevention Codes requiring the immediate repair of the fire alarm system or other actions concerning the life safety of the occupants of the building.)

    Fee means the assessment of a monetary charge payable to the City of Haines City, authorized pursuant to this section, to defray the expenses of responding to a false alarm and the enforcement action for correction thereof.

    Fire department means the City of Haines City Fire and Rescue or the Haines City Fire Department.

    Fire department or police department response means a response by any member of either agency when dispatched to the premises where an alarm has been activated or learns of the activation of an alarm system, by any means whatsoever, and an incident report is generated.

    Haines City means the City of Haines City, a political subdivision of the State of Florida.

    Keyholder means any person authorized by the alarm user to enter or provide access to the alarm user's premises for the purposes of enabling the police department or the fire department to investigate and determine the validity of an alarm and to reset.

    Knox Box System is a secure key and premise information holding system utilized by the City of Haines City Police and Fire Departments for the purpose of entering and determining the nature of an alarm activation. The Haines City Police and Fire Department personnel shall not be classified as "keyholders."

    Malicious false alarm means the deliberate intent by an individual(s) to commit an unlawful act; to activate an alarm system without legitimate cause or reason.

    Nuisance alarm means three (3) or more false alarms occurring at the same premises, on the same alarm system, within a one-hundred-eighty-day period or less period.

    One-hundred-eighty-day period means any consecutive one hundred eighty-day period. For the purposes of determining the number of false alarms an alarm user has had within a one hundred eighty-day period, the period of time to be analyzed shall be the date on which the most recent false alarm has occurred and the one hundred eighty (180) days preceding the date of such false alarm.

    Panic alarm means any mechanical, electrical or radio controlled device which is personally activated by the alarm user and which indicates that a clear and present danger is presently confronting the alarm user. The term shall include pull stations used to signal the existence of a fire.

    Person means any natural person, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company, business, or organization of any kind.

    Police department means the City of Haines City Police Department.

    Premises means any building, structure or combination of buildings and structures, or any other area within a building, structure or combination thereof, wherein an alarm system is installed.

    Required operative alarm system means an alarm system, which the owner of a premise is required to maintain in an operative condition pursuant to statute, law, resolution, section, rule or regulation of any government entity.

    Responding officer means an officer with the Haines City Police Department responding to a security alarm or a firefighter, fire inspector or other official with the fire department responding to a fire alarm.

    Serve means hand-delivery by a representative of the City of Haines City to the owner or authorized representative. In the event the owner or authorized representative is not available, serve shall mean placing the form or other matter in the United States mail, registered, return recite requested, postage prepaid, addressed to the owner or authorized representative.

    Single-station (residential) smoke alarm means an assembly incorporating the detector, control equipment and alarm-sounding appliance in one unit operated from a power supply either in the unit, and/or obtained at the point of installation.

    (b) Alarm system requirements.

    (1) Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, all alarm systems shall be installed, maintained and operated in accordance with all other applicable local, state and federal regulations.

    a. If the system is designed to produce an audible alarm, it shall be equipped with an automatic reset function that deactivates any such audible alarm within fifteen (15) minutes of activation and that will prevent reactivation; provided, this time limitation shall not apply to those systems that are required by law or Underwriters Laboratory standards to have a longer operating time. In those cases, the alarm system shall be equipped so as to silence at the conclusion of the mandated extended period.

    b. The system shall have either a battery back-up power supply that will automatically activate in the event of a power failure or outage to prevent activation of an alarm or shall be designed such that the system will not activate in the event if a power failure or outage. If the system utilizes a back-up power supply, said supply shall be capable of lasting a minimum of three (3) hours without an alarm being activated.

    (2) Each alarm user shall be responsible for ensuring that his or her alarm monitoring company has current home, work and emergency telephone numbers for the alarm user and each keyholder for the alarm user.

    (3) Upon discovery of a violation of this section, the alarm user shall be notified of the violation and given a reasonable time to correct the violation, not exceed thirty (30) days. A citation shall be issued if the alarm user does not correct the violation within the given time. The fine pursuant to said citation shall be fifty dollars ($50.00) if uncontested and in the amount to be determined by the court if contested, not to exceed five hundred ($500.00). This fine shall be in addition to any other fine imposed under this section. Each day an alarm system is operated in violation of this Section shall constitute a separate violation.

    (4) Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, all alarm systems shall be installed, maintained and operated in accordance with all other applicable local, state and federal regulations and codes.

    (c) Response to alarms.

    (1) Alarm users: At the request of police or fire department personnel, alarm users shall respond and arrive at the scene of the alarm, for each activated alarm at their premises, within forty-five (45) minutes of notification. Response by a keyholder shall constitute response by an alarm user for the purposes of this subsection. In addition to any other penalty provided for herein, failure to respond within forty-five (45) minutes of notification without good cause as determined by the police chief for security alarms, or the fire chief for fire alarm systems, shall result in a fine of fifty dollars ($50.00), or such a fine as determined by the court if contested, not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00).

    (2) Police and fire departments: Subject to this section, both the police department and/or the fire department shall attempt to respond in all cases where a panic alarm has been activated and in all cases where they have received reliable information that an emergency in fact exists.

    In addition, the police department and the fire department may, in their sole discretion, choose not to respond to an alarm in the event they have been informed by the alarm user or some other reliable source that the alarm system is receiving maintenance or is being tested.

    (3) Alarm law enforcement: Alarms will include any fire, burglary, robbery/hold up, or intruder type alarm calls for service, where law enforcement action may be needed.

    (4) Responsibility for false alarm: The responsibility for a false alarm shall be that of the fire alarm owner. The following exceptions do not alleviate the owner's responsibility to take reasonable action to prevent a reoccurrence.

    Exception No. 1: If it is determined that the cause of the false alarm was due to a process, operation or act of the occupant, then the occupant shall be the responsible party and subject to any fines or fees.

    Exception No. 2: If the activation was shown to be malicious in cause.

    (d) False alarms: required corrective action and penalties.

    (1) Alarm malfunction. In the event of a fire alarm activation deemed by a police or fire department representative to be the result of an alarm malfunction, the alarm user will be served an "alarm activation report" indicating that the activation was deemed to be the result of an alarm malfunction. The alarm user shall, within fifteen (15) days, have his or her alarm system inspected and, if necessary, repaired by a state-certified or state-registered alarm technician. This would require the alarm user to return a completed "affidavit of service/repair" within the fifteen-day period of said alarm activation which can verify, to the satisfaction of the enforcement official, that the alarm system in question has actually been examined by a qualified alarm technician and that a bona fide attempt has been made to identify the cause of the alarm malfunction and corrective action taken. Failure to return an "affidavit of service/repair" within said fifteen-day period, which is satisfactory to the enforcement official, will result in a citation against the alarm user of a fine of one hundred dollars ($100.00) for failure to take corrective action. An additional fifteen-day extension (or portion thereof) may be granted by the enforcement official provided that evidence (or other information) acceptable to the enforcement official, can be presented to the enforcement official by a qualified alarm technician, prior to the expiration of the original "affidavit of service/repair."

    Failure to return an "affidavit of service/repair" within a thirty-day period (not including any approved extension), which is satisfactory to the enforcement official, will result in a citation against the alarm user of a fine not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) for failure to take corrective action.

    Failure to return an "affidavit of service/repair within a forty- five-day period, which is satisfactory to the enforcement official, will result in a citation against the alarm user of a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00) for failure to take corrective action and shall be fined five hundred dollars ($500.00) for every fifteen (15) days thereafter for failure to take corrective action.

    (2) Malicious false alarm. The penalty for a conviction of a malicious false alarm shall be governed by Chapter 806, Florida Statutes, section 806.101.

    (3) Circumstances beyond the alarm user's control. The enforcement official shall have the authority to declare a false alarm as "circumstances beyond the alarm user's control" when the cause of the false alarm can be identified and was clearly unavoidable and not do to a malfunctioning alarm system. (Examples: water surge on a fire sprinkler system caused by an outside source; employee accidentally hitting/bumping an alarm station; good intent where an individual believed there was just cause to activate an alarm system, etc.) Such declaration, acceptable to the enforcing official, shall not be included in determining a false alarm fine or fee.

    (4) Alarm repair company or a state-certified or state-registered alarm technician or contractor. Failure of an alarm repair company or a state-certified or state-registered alarm contractor to notify the police or fire department that maintenance or testing is being preformed on an alarm system, and the activation of the alarm system causes the response of police and/or fire department personnel, said alarm repair company or a state-certified or state-registered alarm contractor shall on the second occurrence, and each occurrence thereafter, within a one hundred eighty-day period, regardless if it is the same system or not, the alarm repair company or state-certified or state-registered alarm contractor shall be fines fifty dollars ($50.00), or such a fine as determined by the court if contested, not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00) for each occurrence. Alarm users shall not be responsible for false alarms caused by an alarm repair company.

    (5) Nuisance alarms. False alarms allowed to continue over a period of two (2) alarm activations (necessitating a response from the fire department) within any one hundred eighty-day period or less, shall be deemed nuisance alarms by the enforcement official. In addition to the above listed fees and fines (except as provided in subsection (6) below), the alarm user shall be subject to the following fees for false alarms:

    a. No fine shall be imposed for the first false alarm within any one hundred eighty-day period.

    b. No fine shall be imposed for the second false alarm within a one-hundred-eighty-day period unless the alarm user failed to comply with the requirements of subsection (1), in which case a fine in the amount of fifty dollars ($50.00) shall be imposed.

    c. The fine for a third and subsequent false alarm within a one-hundred-eighty-day period shall be as follows:

    False Alarms      Fine

    3 .....$50.00

    4 .....100.00

    5 .....200.00

    6 .....350.00

    7 and for each subsequent occurrence .....500.00

    (6) As determined by the enforcing official, a completed "affidavit of service/repair" shall constitute the beginning of a new one-hundred-eighty-day period.

    (7) The penalty for contested citations shall be in an amount to be determined by the court, not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00) and/or imprisonment for a term not to exceed sixty (60) days.

    (8) If an alarm user fails to pay any fine imposed herein within thirty (30) consecutive days of issuance of a citation, or within forty-five (45) consecutive days from the date of an adverse final judgment by the court, in the event of a contested citation, the alarm user forfeits the right to operate his or her alarm system and, unless otherwise required by law, may not operate said system until such fine is paid. Operation of an alarm system in violation of this subsection shall constitute a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in F.S. ch. 775. In addition, a judgment lien may be recorded against the alarm user in the public records.

    (9) For the purposes of this section, false security alarms and false fire alarms shall be counted separately. For example, an alarm user who has had three false security alarms within a one-hundred-eighty-day period, will not receive a citation upon the occurrence of his or her first false fire alarm within the one hundred eighty-day period, unless the security alarm and the fire alarm utilize the same system components.

    (e) Citation procedure. For the purpose of this section the police department shall be the issuing agency for all citations for violations of this section. As requested by the fire department, the police department shall issue a citation on the fire department's behalf. The procedures to be utilized for issuing and contesting citations shall be the procedures contained in the City of Haines City Code Enforcement Citation Section. Notwithstanding subsection (d)(7)., an alarm user shall have thirty (30) days from the issuance of a citation to either pay the fine imposed pursuant to the citation or to request a hearing. Failure by the alarm user to take action within this time period shall constitute a waiver of the alarm user's right to contest the citation and a judgment may be entered against the alarm user. Citations issued by the Haines City Police Department may be issued by mailing the citation to the address of the alarm user, registered, return recite requested. A citation issued under this section shall be mailed to the alarm user within fourteen (14) days after the date of violation. The police department shall file the original copy of the citation with the clerk of court.

    (f) Automatic telephone digital alarm communication systems prohibited.

    (1) It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, business, partnership, association, corporation or other entity to install, maintain, or operate an automatic telephone digital alarm communication system as defined herein. The owner, operator or lessee of such a system shall disconnect such system within seventy-two (72) hours of receiving notice to do so.

    (2) Failure to comply with this section shall constitute a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in F.S. ch. 775.

    (g) General provision specific to fire alarm systems.

    (1) Disconnection, deactivate or shutdown of a fire alarm system.

    a. The disconnection, deactivation or shutdown of a fire alarm system shall only be permitted under the following conditions:

    1. Fire alarm systems may be disconnected, deactivated or shutdown for the purposes of training, inspection, testing and/or maintenance to the system, or as herein authorized.

    Note: Whenever a fire alarm system is placed in a non-fully functional state or is being tested, the fire department shall be notified by the agency or person performing such action. (See subsection (d)(4).)

    2. Any fire alarm system activation, or portion thereof, meeting the definition of nuisance alarm as defined in subsection (b), may be ordered by the enforcing official to disconnect, be deactivated or shutdown. The alarm user (or the occupant, if applicable) of the fire alarm system shall take immediate action to disconnect, deactivate or shutdown the system and to take action to correct the condition causing the false fire alarms and shall take all steps necessary to adequately safeguard the structure and occupant(s) as approved by the enforcing official.

    3. A written notice to disconnect, deactivate or shutdown shall be served to the alarm user and shall specify the date on which the alarm user shall be (has been) required to disconnect, deactivate or shutdown the fire alarm system. This written notice may be given after a verbal order to disconnect, deactivate or shutdown the fire alarm system. This written notice shall be served within seven (7) days following the verbal order.

    (2) Failure to disconnect or unauthorized reconnect of fire alarm system. It shall be unlawful for any person who fails to disconnect, deactivate or shutdown a fire alarm system, which has been ordered by the enforcing official to be disconnected, deactivated or shutdown pursuant to subsection (g)(1) above and to include those situations in which the fire chief affirmed the order to disconnect, deactivate or shutdown.

    It shall be unlawful for any person to reconnect a fire alarm system which has been disconnected, deactivated or shutdown pursuant to the order of the enforcement official, unless reconnection of the alarm system is authorized pursuant to subsection (g)(3), "reconnection of fire alarm system."

    Any person violating the provisions of this section, shall receive, in addition to any other fine, a fine of fifty dollars ($50.00) and shall also be subject to subsection 10-5(d).

    (3) Reconnection of fire alarm system. Any order to disconnect, deactivate or shutdown a fire alarm system may be rescinded by the fire department enforcement official upon a finding by said enforcement official that the alarm user (owner of the premises or occupant, as applicable) has taken corrective action to remedy the false fire alarms at the premises. In making a request for such rescission, the alarm user shall have the burden to show what corrective action(s) has/have been taken and that such action is sufficient to support a finding that the cause of the false fire alarms has/have been remedied. The enforcement official shall have the right to inspect the alarm system and witness a test of the system prior to rescinding the order to disconnect, deactivate or shutdown.

    (4) Appeals. Appeals under this subsection 10-5(g) shall comply with the appeal procedures set forth in subsection 10-5(e).

    (5) Newly installed fire alarm system. The provisions of this section regarding nuisance false alarms shall not apply to any newly installed fire alarm system for a period of thirty (30) days from the date of the installation of that alarm system, but shall apply from and after the expiration of the initial thirty-day period.

    (h) Administration.

    (1) Alarm system operations. The City of Haines 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/system. Additionally, it shall be the responsibility of the alarm user or its authorized representative to silence an activated alarm and thereafter reset it. Silencing or resetting a required alarm system prior to confirmation that no emergency exists will be considered as tampering. Tampering with a fire alarm is considered a felony in the third degree in the State of Florida, F.S. § 806.10.

    (2) Applicability. This section shall apply in the incorporated limits of the City of Haines City.

    (3) Limitation of liability. Nothing herein shall be construed to create a duty on the part of the police department, the fire department or the city to respond to any alarm or to otherwise guarantee the safety of any member of the public, and the Haines City Police Department, the Haines City Fire and Rescue and the City of Haines City expressly retain the discretion to determine whether or not to respond to an alarm and to otherwise determine the most efficient deployment of law enforcement and firefighting resources. Nothing herein shall be construed as a waiver of sovereign immunity on the part of either the Haines City Police Department, Haines City Fire and Rescue or the City of Haines City.

    (4) Disposition of penalties and fees. Penalties and fees collected for false alarms shall be forwarded to the records division of the Haines City Police Department. The clerk shall deposit funds received for false fire alarms into the fire services fund and funds received for false security alarms into a separate account for false security alarm funds.

(Ord. No. 07-1278, 2-15-07)