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Houston County Courier - Local News

Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company

Alarm ordinance passes
Houston County Courier

By Lynda Jones
Managing Editor

After discussing the problem of false alarms for about one year, and debating a proposed ordinance the past two city council meetings, the Crockett City Council approved an ordinance during its meeting Monday, Aug. 29. The council has been concerned about the financial cost to the city and the strain on manpower in the police and fire departments caused by a high rate of false alarm calls each month. While the council seemed to be in agreement that the false alarm rate needs to be addressed, it initially was not in agreement about how to address the issue. Mayor Pro Tem Bill Holcolm previously argued that compliant citizens should not be penalized with an annual permit fee. The ordinance approved Monday requires an initial registration fee of $20 per alarm system. If a facility has separate security and fire systems, the fees will be $20 per system. This is a one-time registration fee per system. The approved ordinance requires annual renewal of an alarm permit, but no annual renewal fee will be charged. Holcomb made the motion to approve the ordinance in the form presented Monday, and thanked City Administrator Ron Duncan and others for their hard work in developing the ordinance. Holcomb said he understands the importance of responders knowing where the alarms are located and how to contact the owners. The mayor pro tem said further that he understands the city needs some revenue to administer the project. He said now it will be the alarm owners’ responsibility to keep their registration current, or there will be a penalty. Permits must be renewed by Jan. 31 of each year, but no annual permit fee will be assessed. Failure to register the alarm system may result in the assessment of fines, $50 for the first offense and $100 for each subsequent offense. Duncan said the bottom line of the ordinance is that “it is geared to regulation of the fire alarms and security alarm systems so that we eliminate or dramatically reduce the false alarm problem, not to punish the alarm system owners. The intent, he said, also is to make sure first responders have the contact information they need. All information supplied to the city with regards to this ordinance will be confidential and not subject to public review unless required by law. According to the new ordinance, it is unlawful for any person to program an automatic dialing device to select a primary telephone line belonging to the city, and it is unlawful for an alarm user to fail to disconnect or reprogram an automatic dialing device which is programmed to select a primary telephone line belonging to the city within 12 hours of receipt of written notice from the police/fire chief. The ordinance does not apply to alarms that are designed to alert only the inhabitants of a premise, if the alarm system does not emit a signal that is audible or visible outside the premise that it is installed upon, and it does not apply to alarms installed upon the premises occupied by the city. One provision of the ordinance states, “If a permit holder or an emergency contact person is contacted to inspect an unsecured building or residence and fails to respond to the alarm site in the allowed time of 30 minutes to secure the building or residence, a fee of $50 will be charged to the permit holder if city representatives have to secure the premises.” The ordinance stipulates that the person designated in a permit application is responsible for responding to alarms and giving access to the site, and also is responsible for the proper maintenance and operation of the alarm system and payment of fees and fi nes assessed under the ordinance. The ordinance further states, “Any person, fi rm or corporation that violates any of the provisions or terms of this chapter shall be subject to penalty and upon conviction shall be punished by a fi ne not to exceed $2,000.” The effective date of the ordinance is Oct. 1.

 

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