Sec. 12-53. Purpose and scope
a. The purpose of this article is to:
1. Encourage alarm users and alarm companies to properly maintain the operational effectiveness and proper utilization of alarm systems intended to summon the fire department; and,
2. Protect the emergency services of the city by reducing or eliminating false alarms or preventable alarms which may unduly divert fire department personnel from responding to active EMS calls, structure fires, vehicle fires, or any other calls that require the response and services provided by the fire department; and,
3. Defray the costs of administering this article through alarm permit fees and false alarm charges.
a. The provisions of this article shall apply only to alarm systems intended to summon the fire department and which:
1. Send an alarm signal or alarm message directly to the public safety answering point; or
2. Send an alarm signal or alarm message to a location where the alarm system is monitored and an alarm signal or alarm message is relayed to the public safety answering point; or
3. Emits an audible or visual alarm signal that can be heard or seen on the exterior of the premises.
c. An alarm user required by federal or state statute, regulation or rule, to install, maintain and operate an
alarm system is subject to this article and payment of the same fees and fines.
d. An alarm user that is governmental unit or taxing entity shall not be subject to the payment of any
fees or fines imposed under this article, but each governmental unit and taxing entity shall be
required to obtain an alarm permit and otherwise comply with this article.
Sec. 12-54. Definitions
For the purpose of this article, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning:
alarm company or fire alarm company: Any person engaged in the full-time or part-time business of selling, leasing, maintaining, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving, installing or monitoring any alarm system or causing to be sold, leased, maintained, serviced, repaired, altered, replaced, moved, installed or monitored any alarm system in an alarm site.
alarm coordinator: The Fire Chief or his/her designee.
alarm permit or fire alarm permit: A permit issued by the alarm coordinator pursuant to this article.
alarm signal: A signal initiated by a device whose activation is indicative of the presence of a fire or fire signature, including but not limited to a manual fire alarm box, automatic fire detector, water-flow switch, or other similar device.
alarm site: A single fixed premise or location having one street address served by one or more alarm systems. Each tenancy, if served by a separate alarm system in a multi-tenant building or complex, shall be considered a separate alarm site.
alarm system or fire alarm system: Any assembly of equipment (whether mechanical, electrical, electronic or any combination thereof) arranged to send an alarm signal and intended to summon the fire department.
alarm user or fire alarm user: Any person who uses or is in control of an alarm system at an alarm site.
automatic dialing device: An electrical, electronic, mechanical or other device capable of being programmed to send a pre-recorded message, when activated, over a telephone line, radio, or other communication system.
calendar year: A period of one year beginning on January 1 and ending at the end of the day on December 31.
cancellation: The process by which an alarm company providing monitoring verifies with the alarm user or responsible party that a false dispatch has occurred and that there is not an existing situation at the alarm site requiring a fire department response and notifies the fire department prior to the arrival of the responding fire department personnel.
conversion: The transaction or process by which one alarm company begins monitoring of a previously unmonitored alarm system or an alarm system previously monitored by another alarm company.
false alarm: An alarm signal that is received by the public safety answering point or by any fire department personnel when there is not a situation requiring a fire department response at the alarm site from which the alarm signal originated. The term includes, but is not limited to, any event considered to be a false alarm in Section 12-58 of this article. The term does not include any event that qualifies as a legitimate alarm under Section 12-58 of this article.
Fire Chief: The chief of the fire department and any individual designated by said chief to undertake any of the duties or functions imposed upon the Fire Chief in this article.
fire department: The City of Marlin Fire Department.
individual: An individual human being.
person: An individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization, firm, company, or other entity of any nature.
public safety answering point: A communications facility to which the City of Marlin has assigned the responsibility to receive 9-1-1 calls and, as appropriate, to dispatch fire department services or to extend, transfer, or relay 9-1-1 calls to appropriate public safety agencies.
residential: an alarm site that is a single family residence or a multi-family residence with three or less units.
commercial: an alarm site that is other than residential.
takeover: The transaction or process by which an alarm user takes over control of an existing alarm system which was previously controlled by another alarm user.
verify: To contact the alarm site by telephonic or other electrical means, whether or not actual contact with an individual is made, before requesting fire department response, in an attempt to avoid the unnecessary dispatch and response of the fire department.
Sec. 12-55. Alarm Permit Requirements
a. It is unlawful for an alarm user to operate, or cause to be operated, an alarm system at its alarm site without a valid alarm permit issued by the alarm coordinator. An alarm permit entitles the holder to operate all alarm systems at an alarm site, provided such operation complies with all applicable law.
For alarm systems existing at the date of the enactment of this Article, an alarm permit must be applied for and the alarm permit fee paid by the alarm user on or before ninety (90) days from the publication of the caption of the ordinance adopting this article.
b. An alarm user must submit an alarm permit application and alarm permit fee to the alarm coordinator within five days after a takeover or the installation of an alarm system and obtain a valid alarm permit prior to the operation of the alarm system. The alarm user must obtain a separate alarm permit for each alarm site.
c. The alarm coordinator shall promulgate an alarm permit application. The alarm permit application may require any information reasonably necessary for the alarm coordinator to determine whether the alarm system and alarm user comply with the provisions of this article and all information reasonably necessary for the alarm coordinator to perform the duties assigned to the alarm coordinator by this article. Persons making and application for an alarm permit must provide all of the information as required by the alarm permit application. The alarm coordinator shall deny or postpone the issuance of an alarm permit until all required information is provided.
d. Nonrefundable alarm permit fees will be set by resolution of the City Council for residential and commercial permits and shall be paid with the application for an alarm permit.
e. An alarm permit cannot be transferred to another person or alarm site. Persons performing a takeover of an alarm system at an alarm site must submit a new application and alarm permit fee and obtain a valid alarm permit prior to operating the alarm system.
f. An alarm user shall inform the alarm coordinator of any change that alters any information provided on the alarm user's alarm permit application within five business days after the occurrence of the change.
g. The alarm permit requirement and associated fee applies to all existing and future alarm systems.
h. The alarm permit fee is a one-time fee per alarm system except as otherwise set forth in this Article.
i. The permit does not expire except as otherwise provided in this Article or if revoked as provided for in this Article.
Sec. 12-56. Duties of Alarm User
An alarm user shall:
a. Maintain the alarm site and the alarm system in a manner that will minimize or eliminate false alarms; and
b. Not manually initiate an alarm signal for any reason other than an occurrence of an event that the alarm signal was intended to report; and
c. Operate the alarm system only if the alarm system is functioning properly. If the alarm coordinator determines that false alarms are related to a defect or malfunction in an alarm system, the alarm coordinator may require the alarm user to produce a written report from a properly licensed alarm company which has inspected the alarm system stating the probable cause of the false alarms and actions taken or recommendations for eliminating the false alarms; and
d. Respond or cause a representative to respond to the alarm site within thirty(30) minutes of being notified of alarm activation; and
e. Adjust the mechanism or cause the mechanism to be adjusted so that an alarm signal audible on the exterior of an alarm site will sound for no longer than thirty (30) minutes; and
f. If an alarm system emits an alarm signal that is audible or visible from the exterior of a structure, adjust or cause to be adjusted, the alarm system so that upon activation the alarm system will not transmit another alarm signal without first being reset; and
g. Not operate an alarm system that uses an automatic dialing device to summon fire department units; and
h. Maintain at each alarm site a set of written operating instructions for each alarm system at that alarm site.
Sec. 12-56A. Inspections
Except s otherwise required by the laws of this state, a fire alarm user shall have his/her fire alarm system inspected by a state-licensed fire alarm technician annually based on the anniversary date of the installation of the fire alarm system. The fire alarm system must be tagged by the fire alarm technician to evidence inspection.
Sec. 12-57. Duties of Alarm Company
a. Prior to alarm system activation, every alarm company selling, leasing, or furnishing to any alarm user an alarm system shall:
1. Furnish the alarm user with a copy of this article; and
2. Furnish the alarm user with an application for an alarm permit; and
3. Provide written instructions explaining how to operate the alarm system properly; and
4. Provide written information on how to obtain service for the alarm system at any time; and
5. Provide training regarding the proper operation of the alarm system to the alarm user and to the alarm user's employees or other persons designated by the alarm user as authorized to operate the alarm system.
b. Before selling, leasing, or furnishing to any alarm user any alarm system at an alarm site within the city, each alarm company shall, provide to the alarm coordinator a copy of its state license and the name, address, and phone number of an individual who will serve as a contact person. If the alarm company has a local contact person, then the alarm company shall provide the name, address, and phone number of that local contact person to the alarm coordinator. Within five business days after the occurrence of any change that alters any information that the alarm company is required to provide to the alarm coordinator, the alarm company shall inform the alarm coordinator of the change and provide the corrected information to the alarm coordinator.
c. An alarm company which begins monitoring a previously unmonitored alarm system or an alarm system previously monitored by another alarm company must notify the alarm coordinator of the conversion at least three days prior to the date of the conversion.
d. An alarm company performing monitoring services shall:
1. Communicate with the public safety answering point prior to any work or testing on any alarm system and secure the name of the individual who was contacted in the public safety answering point; and
2. Place all alarm system equipment on test status with the alarm company monitoring the alarm system prior to any work or testing on the alarm system; and
3. Communicate to the public safety answering point any available information about the specific location at the alarm site from which an alarm signal is originating; and
4. Endeavor to contact the alarm user or a representative of the alarm user to verify when an alarm signal is made and notify the public safety answering point of the time contact was made or the lack thereof, and the intent of the alarm user or representative to respond or to not respond to the alarm site; and
5. When an alarm signal is made, furnish the public safety answering point with the name of the individual contacted as required by this section, the name of the individual responding on behalf of the alarm user, the estimated time of said individual's arrival, and a description of the vehicle driven by the said individual, if applicable. Automatic-dialing with pre-recorded messages or signals is prohibited.
6. Not at any time require a pass code when requiring an alarm system to be placed on test, even with construction or maintenance in place.
e. The alarm coordinator may appeal to the state fire marshal, the Texas Department of Insurance, or any other appropriate state agency to suspend or revoke an alarm company's license for failure to comply with the duties listed in this section or to take such other disciplinary action as may be within the authority of said state agency.
Sec. 12-58. False Alarms; Service Fees
a. All alarm signals to which the fire department responds will be characterized as being either a legitimate alarm or a false alarm after inspection of the alarm site by the responding fire department units.
b. Each of the following events is considered to be a legitimate alarm and is not chargeable to the alarm user:
1. An alarm signal initiated due to proper detection of visible or invisible evidence of combustion; and
2. An alarm signal initiated as a result of weather (lightning, high winds, etc.); and
3. An alarm signal initiated due to a power outage, surge, or damage to phone lines; and
4. An alarm signal initiated as a result of proper functioning flow switch; and
5. Proper cancellation prior to the arrival of any fire department personnel at the location of the alarm site; and
6. Any other event where it is determined by the alarm coordinator that the alarm user could not have reasonably prevented the initiation of the alarm signal.
c. Each of the following events is considered to be a false alarm and is chargeable to the alarm user:
1. An alarm signal from a business accidentally initiated by an employee, owner, cleaning crew or other person legally at the alarm site; and
2. An alarm signal from a residence accidentally initiated by the homeowner, occupant, or person who is legally at the residence; and
3. An alarm signal initiated as a result of improper maintenance or lack of maintenance; and
4. The failure of the alarm user, the alarm user's representative, and the alarm company to accomplish proper cancellation prior to the arrival of any fire department personnel at the location of the alarm site; and
5. An alarm signal initiated as a result of a malfunction in the alarm system; and
6. An alarm signal initiated where no fire exists and that is caused by any condition that could reasonably have been prevented by the alarm user.
d. An alarm user shall be subject to service fees and possible suspension of the alarm permit for an excessive number of false alarms at the alarm site.
1. No service fee will be charged for the first 3 false alarms occurring in a calendar year at an alarm site.
2. After the first 3 false alarms at an alarm site in a calendar year, an alarm user shall pay a service fee for each false alarm occurring at the same alarm site during the remainder of the calendar year. The amount of said fees for residential and commercial fire alarm systems will be set by resolution of the City Council.
3. Upon the determination that 4 or more false alarms have occurred at an alarm site in a calendar year, the alarm coordinator shall make written notice to the alarm user of such fact and of the service fee(s) assessed. The notice shall also state that the alarm user must either appeal, as provided in Section 12-60 of this article, or pay the assessed service fee(s) within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice. Failure to make timely payment of fees shall result in the alarm permit being revoked.
Sec. 12-59. Alarm Permit Revocation; Reinstatement
a. The alarm coordinator may revoke an alarm permit if it is determined that:
1. There is a false statement of a material matter or misrepresentation in the alarm permit application; or
2. The holder of the alarm permit has failed to make timely payment of a service fee assessed under Section 12-58 of this article; or
3. An alarm system has generated more than twelve (12) false alarms during any calendar year; or
4. The alarm user has materially failed to comply with any of the provisions of Section 12-56 or 12-56A of this Article; or
5. The alarm system is not being properly monitored in compliance with this Article, as for example, automatic dialing.
c. An alarm permit that has been revoked may be reinstated if the alarm user:
1. Submits an updated, accurate alarm permit application and, if the alarm permit was revoked, pays a nonrefundable reinstatement fee in the amount set by resolution of the City Council; and
2. Pays, or otherwise resolves, all fees and fines assessed under this article; and
3. Provides acceptable evidence that the cause(s) of the revocation has been remedied.
d. An alarm user shall immediately discontinue use of an alarm system upon being notified of the revocation of an alarm permit. It is unlawful for an alarm user to continue use of an alarm system after notice of revocation of the alarm permit.
Sec. 12-60. Appeals
a. An alarm user may appeal a false alarm determination and/or assessment of a service fee by filing a written notice of appeal to the alarm coordinator within five business days of receipt of the notice that a service fee(s) has been assessed.
1. The notice of appeal must state the date of the alarm being disputed and the reasons why the alarm user believes the false alarm determination to be incorrect.
2. The alarm coordinator will make a determination in writing within five business days of receipt of the notice of appeal.
3. The determination of the alarm coordinator may be appealed to the City Manager if the appeal is made in writing within five (5) business days of receipt of the alarm coordinator's findings. The decision of the City Manager is final.
b. An alarm user may appeal the revocation of an alarm permit to the City Manager by filing a written request for a hearing within ten (10) days of receipt of the notification of the revocation of the alarm permit.
1. If a hearing before the City Manager is requested, the alarm coordinator shall notify the alarm user by certified mail of the time and place of the hearing at least five (5) days prior to the hearing date. The hearing date shall not be less than ten (10) days after the filing of the request for a hearing.
2. At the hearing, the alarm user may present written and oral evidence as to the reasons the alarm permit should not be suspended or revoked. The formal rules of evidence do not apply at an appeal hearing.
3. The City Manager shall make a decision to uphold or overturn the revocation based upon a preponderance of the evidence presented at the hearing. If the revocation is upheld, the alarm user may apply for reinstatement of the alarm permit as provided for under Section 12-59 of this article.
c. Except for any matter properly appealed under subsection a or b of this section, all other administrative actions may be appealed to the City Manager or the City Manager's designated representative(s) by giving written notice of such appeal to the City Manager's office within ten (10) days of the action being appealed. The decision of the City Manager or representative(s) shall be final.
Sec. 12-61. Violation; Fine
a. A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence operates or causes to be operated, an alarm system at an alarm site without a valid alarm permit, or intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence fails to comply with a duty placed upon the person under this Article. Each day of violation shall constitute a separate offense.
b. An offense under this section is a misdemeanor criminal offense which is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.00.
c. For the purposes of this article, an alarm signal shall be prima facie evidence that the alarm user operated an alarm system at an alarm site.
Fire Alarm Permit Fees:
False Alarm Service Fees:
1-3 false alarms – no false alarm fee will be charged
4-5 false alarms - $150.00 for each false alarm in this range.
6-7 false alarms - $500.00 for each false alarm in this range.
8 or more false alarms - $1,000.00 for each false alarm in this range.
1-3 false alarms – no false alarm fee will be charged
4-5 false alarms - $15.00 for each false alarm in this range.
6-7 false alarms - $50.00 for each false alarm in this range.
8 or more false alarms - $100.00 for each false alarm in this range.