New ordinance establishes policy on use of automatic emergency alarm systems

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen unanimously passed an ordinance on final reading last week that establishes a policy regarding the use of automatic emergency alarm systems.
Board members took the action Thursday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Billy Ray Morris and seconded by Alderman Kelly Rector.
The ordinance states that the “extensive use” of automatic emergency alarm systems has resulted in an increasing number of false alarms, which endanger the health, safety and welfare of the community.
It notes that the police and fire departments, which perform a number of emergency service calls, need to be available to respond to actual emergencies.
And it states that “adequate maintenance” of such systems can reduce the number of false alarms.
The board determined that it was in the best interest of the town to establish a fee for false emergency alarms that are not caused by “acts of nature.”
The ordinance adds Title 20, Section 2 to the Municipal Code, with the section defining a false alarm as: (1) activation of an alarm system through mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation, negligence or intentional misuse by the owner or his employees; or (2) any other activation not caused by fire, attempted or actual forced entry, attempted or actual robbery.
Such terminology does not include alarms caused by acts of nature, such as tornadoes or other severe weather, telephone line trouble or other conditions that are clearly beyond the control of the alarm user.
Within a 12-month period, a maximum of three false burglar, robbery/ panic or fire alarms will be granted for each commercial alarm device and five for each residential device. All subsequent false activations will be considered chargeable violations.
An alarm user will be charged $25 for each false alarm in excess of the number allowed.
The charge will be remitted to the police department, and all fees collected will be paid to Oakland’s General Fund.
Within 120 days after Nov. 19, it will be a violation for any automatic dialing device to call the 911 or E911 emergency line. Such devices will be restricted
to dialing the nonemergency police, fire or Emergency Medical Services phone numbers.
After the allowable false alarms, each person who owns, operates, leases or controls any commercial or residential premises having an alarm system will be cited to Oakland Municipal Court for any response to a false alarm.
Any Oakland police officer or firefighter can lawfully issue a citation to an owner, operator or user of a functional alarm system that has given a false alarm in excess of the number allowed.
Within 15 days of a conviction date, the person will have to show the police department proof of the corrective action taken to remedy the problem.
It will be a violation of the ordinance for any alarm company to set off a false alarm while installing, repairing or doing maintenance work on an alarm system.
Each incidence of non-compliance with the requirements of the ordinance will constitute a separate violation punishable by a $50 fine plus court costs.