What responsibilities do alarm business users have to reduce false alarms?

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What responsibilities do alarm businesses users have to help reduce false alarms?

The ordinance is designed to place greater responsibility and accountability for preventing false alarms on the alarm businesses. Under the ordinance, the alarm business has these responsibilities:

  • Obtain a permit from the City of Appleton on an annual basis. Permits are not required for alarm businesses that ONLY work with fire alarm systems.
  • Ensure that enhanced call verification or verified response procedures are followed prior to any request for police services. This is not required for hold-up, duress, panic, or fire alarms.
  • Install only alarm devices that meet the Security Industry Alarm Coalition standards.
  • Use only those Central Alarm Monitoring Stations that meet the standards of Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or Factory Mutual.
  • Keep current records of client information, including but not limited to, names of alarm users, key holders, addresses, contact information, and phone numbers (cell phone numbers may be the most helpful) to be used for enhanced call verification and key holder notification and ensure that this current information is available to the central alarm monitoring station.
  • Provide written and oral instructions explaining the proper use and operation of the alarm system to each of its alarm users.
  • Take reasonable steps to educate all alarm users to minimize the number of false alarms.
  • If an alarm user uses an alarm system without the assistance of an alarm business, the alarm user is subject to the same duties as an alarm business.

What is Enhanced Call Verification? 

Under enhanced call verification, also known as multiple call verification, the central alarm monitoring station operators call the customer premises and then, if necessary, a second customer-provided phone number, such as a cell phone of a business manager or homeowner, to attempt to verify an alarm before law enforcement is called. Communities that have implemented this procedure have seen significant reductions in false alarm dispatches. This is also a good way for business or homeowners to prevent needless requests for police services, thereby avoiding unnecessary false alarm fees. 

Currently, most central alarm monitoring stations make only one call, usually to the alarm premises, before calling the police to dispatch. Many false alarms are generated when employees arrive for work in the morning, but they don’t answer the business phones that early so a call from the central alarm monitoring station will go unanswered. Also, when an alarm is activated by an employee or homeowner leaving as they lock up the building, the central alarm monitoring station will call the premises, but of course there is no answer because there is no one left on the premises. 

By making a second phone call, preferably to a cell phone, the employee or homeowner can to contacted to verify that the alarm is false and the police are never dispatched. 

Enhanced call verification or verified response procedures are not required for hold-up, duress, panic, or fire alarms. 

What is Verified Response? 

Verified response means the alarm business or its representative has verified the legitimacy of an alarm at the scene through independent means such as witness verification, live listening devices or live video monitoring. The most common example of verified response is a business or homeowner that has contracted with a private security firm who will send trained employees to the alarmed premises when an alarm is activated. They will only contact the police department when they visually verify that criminal activity has occurred or is presently occurring. The Appleton Police Department does not recommend or support private individuals who do their own building checks in response to an activated alarm. This is a dangerous activity. 

Verified response is an acceptable alternative to enhanced call verification, but is not required. 

Who must obtain an alarm business permit? 

Alarm business means any person, property owner, firm, partnership, or corporation who alters, installs, leases, maintains, repairs, replaces or services an alarm system or which causes any of these activities to take place. This includes the large security companies that have hundreds of clients with alarms in the City of Appleton, as well as the do-it-yourselfer who has installed their own alarm system without contracting with another company. Permits are not required for alarm businesses that work with ONLY fire alarms. 

Why does an alarm business have to obtain a permit? 

The primary reason is to ensure that the business owners and employees have this information and understand what responsibilities they have to prevent false alarms. 

How does an alarm business go about obtaining a permit? 

The permit is issued through the Appleton City Clerk’s Office. Submit the permit application form along with the required annual fee of $35.00 payable to the “City of Appleton. Forms can also be obtained on the city website at www.appleton.org/departments/clerk/forms. 

Will I get a permit certificate once my fee is paid? 

Yes, the City Clerk’s Office will mail you your alarm business permit within 5-7 business days from receipt of your application. 

What is the fee for an alarm business permit? 

The annual fee is $35. Only alarm businesses must obtain a permit. A large alarm business may have hundreds of clients within the City of Appleton and they only pay a single annual fee of $35. However, if you have installed or use your own alarm system and have contracted with a central alarm monitoring station, without using an alarm business, or have the alarm set up so that passerby’s will notify the police when they see or hear the alarm signal that was activated, then you need to obtain a permit from the City. 

An individual alarm user, who contracts with an alarm business, does not have to obtain a permit. 

How long is the permit good for? 

The permit fee must be renewed on an annual basis and is good for an entire calendar year, starting on January 1. 

What if the contact information on the permit application form changes? 

In the event of a change in any information required for an alarm business permit, the owner or applicant must notify the City of Appleton Clerk’s office and update the permit application form. There is no fee for updating information. 

Is there a penalty for not obtaining a permit for my alarm business? 

Yes, the alarm business owner or agent can be subject to a forfeiture of $125 plus court costs for the first offense and up to $500 plus court costs for second and subsequent offenses. Each day that a violation occurs shall be considered a separate offense. 

Are alarm permit fees refundable? 

No. Alarm business permit fees are not refundable and cannot be prorated.