Chapter 20.09
FALSE FIRE ALARMS

Sections:

20.09.010    Preventable responses to fire alarms – Scope.

20.09.020    Exception.

20.09.030    Fees and cost recovery.

20.09.040    Responsibilities.

20.09.050    Notice of fee.

20.09.060    Hearing from administrative decision – Finality.

20.09.010 Preventable responses to fire alarms – Scope.

This chapter shall apply to activation of a fire alarm system resulting in response of fire apparatus due to either direct transmission of the fire alarm to the monitoring station or telephone report of fire alarm activation caused by any of the following:

A.    Improper type, installation, sensitivity or maintenance of automatic detectors.

B.    Improper installation (including unapproved or incompatible components) or maintenance of fire alarm systems with unapparent reasons for repetitious alarms.

C.    Erroneous transmission of an alarm including the reporting of trouble signals by fire alarm monitoring companies.

D.    Work on a fire alarm system or automatic extinguishing system connected to an alarm system when reasonable steps were not taken to prevent reporting of an alarm to the fire department.

E.    Fire drills or tests of alarm or extinguishing systems when reasonable steps were not taken to prevent reporting of an alarm to the fire department.

F.    Work including painting, welding, cleaning, cooking, dust producing or other activities which could activate a fire alarm detector. (Ord. 1635 § 1, 1996; Ord. 1236 § 10, 1986).

20.09.020 Exception.

This chapter shall not apply to activation of a fire alarm system resulting from the following:

A.    Any actual fire, explosion or overheating or other situation that could have resulted in a fire.

B.    Any manual activation of an alarm where it was believed that a fire or any other emergency requiring response of emergency personnel existed.

C.    Malicious manual activation or unlawful tampering with a fire alarm system.

D.    Accidental striking of an alarm box, detector, circuitry, panel or other components of an alarm system or accidental breakage or discharge of a sprinkler system or other fire extinguishing system.

E.    Accidental breakage or leak of any system that releases steam, heat, gases, water or vapors which might activate a detector.

F.    Earthquake, lightning or natural occurrences that result in movement or flooding of a building.

G.    Work on telephone lines or central office equipment. (Ord. 1635 § 1, 1996; Ord. 1236 § 10, 1986).

20.09.030 Fees and cost recovery.

A.    Exempt Alarms.

1.    The first preventable fire department response to fire alarms from any one system during a calendar year shall be exempt except that there shall be no exempt responses to alarms caused by alarm system monitoring companies or companies performing work on fire alarm or fire extinguishing systems when reasonable steps were not taken to prevent reporting of an alarm to the fire department.

2.    For newly installed alarm systems, the first three preventable fire department responses to fire alarms from any one system or the first three preventable responses within 30 days of the first such alarm, whichever occurs first, are exempt.

B.    Nonexempt Fire Department Responses to Fire Alarms. Such fees as may be established by resolution of the city shall be charged for nonexempt preventable fire department responses to fire alarms during a calendar year from any one system.

C.    Recovery of Costs. In addition to the fees above, the city shall have the right to seek recovery of costs through civil action when there are more than three nonexempt preventable responses to fire alarms during a calendar year. Costs shall include the following:

1.    Personnel costs (including salaries, overtime, fringe benefits) for the time that involved personnel were not available to respond to valid emergencies.

2.    Apparatus costs according to the “Recommended Fee Schedule” of the Washington State Association of Fire Chiefs.

3.    Administrative costs and court costs. (Ord. 1635 § 1, 1996; Ord. 1545 § 2, 1994; Ord. 1306 § 35, 1988; Ord. 1236 § 10, 1986).

20.09.040 Responsibilities.

A.    The owner of the alarm system or subscriber of an alarm service shall be responsible for all preventable fire department responses resulting from activation of a fire alarm system including those caused by tenants or any other occupants of the building or occupancy, except that fire alarm monitoring companies shall be responsible for their erroneous transmission of alarms and companies performing work on fire alarm or extinguishing systems shall be responsible when such work results in a fire department response.

B.    When a preventable fire department response to a fire alarm has occurred, the responsible party shall, within 30 days, make a written report to the fire chief on forms provided by the fire department, stating the reasons for such alarm and the corrective action taken to prevent recurrence. (Ord. 1236 § 10, 1986).

20.09.050 Notice of fee.

A.    Notice of imposition of a fee under the provisions of this chapter shall be sent by mail or delivered personally to the owner; provided, that with respect to business premises, mailing or personal delivery to the manager or chief administrative agency regularly assigned or employed at the premises at the time of the occurrence of a false alarm shall be deemed to be the mailing or personal delivery to the owner.

B.    The notice shall specify the sanctions imposed and shall advise the owner that unless he requests a hearing with the city manager as set forth in BMC 20.09.060 by filing written request with the city manager within 15 days of the date of the notice, the sanctions will be imposed. (Ord. 1635 § 1, 1996; Ord. 1236 § 10, 1986).

20.09.060 Hearing from administrative decision – Finality.

A.    Any person subject to the imposition of a fee under the terms of this chapter shall have a right to a hearing with the city manager upon filing a timely written request.

B.    The request for a hearing must be made in writing and filed with the city manager within 15 days of the date of the notice of administrative decision required in BMC 20.09.050. Upon receipt of a timely written request, the city manager shall schedule a hearing date and inform the owner of the date, time and place of the hearing. The city manager shall consider the record of past false alarms, any corrective action taken and any inspection reports on the cause of the false alarm. If the city manager determines that the false alarms are not caused by the owner or his employees or agents and that reasonable steps have been taken to correct the problem, the fee or other sanction may be suspended, in whole or in part. The city manager shall keep a written report of the hearing including a statement of reasons for whatever action is taken. (Ord. 1635 § 1, 1996; Ord. 1236 § 10, 1986).