In an effort to reduce the number of false fire and burglar alarms, the DeKalb County Commission Monday night adopted a resolution establishing "False Alarms Service Fees" for those who don't keep their emergency alarm systems in proper working order.
Under the resolution, owners and or operators of emergency alarm systems that transmit a false alarm to the County Fire Department or Sheriff's Department will receive verbal notification by the county fire chief or Sheriff for the first false alarm; a written warning for a second alarm; and a service fee of $50 will be imposed for a third false alarm. On the fourth and subsequent false alarms, a service fee of $50 will be imposed for each violation plus the actual costs of such response by the responding agency, including the costs of equipment, fuel, personnel, administration, and other such factors as determined by the County Fire Chief or Sheriff.
"We have a couple of commercial places in the county where their fire alarm is going off several times a quarter and we have to send a fire truck and the sheriff usually sends a car too," said County Mayor Mike Foster during Monday night's county commission meeting. "The False Alarm Service Fees are meant to tell the operator or person servicing that alarm system that they need to make sure it's working correctly. It's not to be punitive. It's to be mildly corrective so that we don't send people out there risking equipment and their lives and time when it is actually probably something that can be adjusted by the person serving that facility," said Foster.
According to the resolution, "Activated emergency fire alarm and burglar alarm systems are many times false, and responses to such alarms reduce the available resources and finances of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and the DeKalb County Fire Department . Adequate maintenance of such emergency alarm systems can reduce the number of such false alarms.
The “False Alarm Service Fees” Resolution is as follows:
False Alarm Service Fees
(a) “False emergency alarm” means any signal actuated by an emergency alarm to which the Fire Department or Sheriff’s Department responds, which is not the result of fire, burglary, or other actual emergency, and not caused by an extraordinary act of nature.
(1) “False alarm'' includes:
a. Negligently or accidentally activated alarm signals; and
b. Alarm signals that are the result of faulty, malfunctioning, or improperly installed or maintained equipment.
(2) "False alarm'' does not include:
a. Alarm signals activated by severe weather conditions;
b. Alarm signals knowingly activated during installation or routine maintenance, IF 911 is properly notified of the testing or maintenance prior to the alarm activation and after testing or maintenance is completed.
(b) “Owner” and/or “Operator” means any person who owns the premises where the alarm signaling system is installed, or the person or persons who lease, operate, occupy, manage the premises, or are bound by the contract for services provided by the alarm signaling monitoring company.
(c) “Service Fee” means the monetary service fee reimbursement due to the responding service. This reimbursement is calculated based on approximations of expenses including, but not limited to, personnel, equipment, administrations and fuel.
II. Notices and fees
The following schedule of notices, warnings, and fees (commensurate with actual costs incurred by responding agencies) shall be assessed to the owners and/or operators of emergency alarm systems for false emergency alarms transmitted to the DeKalb County Fire Department or Sheriff’s Department within any calendar year, January 1 through December 31:
1st false alarm - Verbal notification by the Fire Chief or Sheriff of
DeKalb County, Tennessee.
2nd false alarm - Written warning informing the owner or operator of the
alarm system of the provisions of this ordinance, and of the
occurrence of a second violation.
3rd false alarm - A service fee of $50.00 will be imposed.
4th and subsequent false alarms - For each violation, a service fee of $50 shall be
imposed plus the actual costs of such response by the responding agency, including the costs of equipment, fuel, personnel, administration, and other such factors as determined by the Fire Chief or Sheriff, will be imposed.
III. Testing of alarm signaling systems
(a) No person shall conduct any test or demonstration of an alarm signaling system without first contacting the DeKalb County 911 Emergency Communications District. The dispatch center shall also be contacted when the alarm test or demonstration is completed.
(b) A violation of this section shall have fees assessed as follows (per calendar year):
(1) 1st offense; written warning; no fine
(2) 2nd offense and subsequent occurrences: $50 service fee shall be
imposed, plus the actual costs of such response by the responding agency, including the costs of equipment, fuel, personnel, administration, and other such factors as determined by the Fire Chief or Sheriff, will be imposed.
(c) For purposes of this resolution, an alarm contractor that employs a person who violates this section will be held accountable for the offense.
(d) The offenses will be cumulative for all of the alarm contractor's employees who violate this section within a calendar year.
IV. Owner Responsibilities:
(a) The owner shall ensure that the alarm signaling system is inspected and tested. (b) The owner shall ensure that the alarm signaling system is maintained per manufacturer's specifications. (c) All owners of premises where alarm signals are installed shall provide the monitoring companies a current contact list of at least 3 representatives or designees of the owners of which 1 will respond to the premises within 30 minutes to assist the responding agency in gaining access to the premise. (d) On 1st offense, a written warning will be issued to the owner. A $50 fee, plus an amount to offset the actual expense incurred for responding will be assessed on the 2nd and subsequent occurrences when an owner or designee does not arrive within 30 minutes of the responding agency’s arrival at the premise.
V. Fee Collections
(a) The DeKalb County Fire Chief or Sheriff shall assess all service fees as outlined in this resolution, and will provide written notification and payment instruction to the responsibly party. (b) All service fees will be paid within 30 days from the date on the written notification. (c) All service fee collections shall be submitted to the County Mayor’s Office, along with a copy of the fee assessment notification letter. Proper budget amendments will be prepared to credit the applicable agency’s respective budget. (d) An owner or alarm contractor may appeal the service fee assessment to Emergency Services Committee. (e) The DeKalb County General Sessions Court shall have jurisdiction over all unpaid service fees