H. B. 2768
(By Mr. Speaker, Mr. Kiss)
[Introduced January 29, 2003; referred to the
Committee on Political Subdivisions then the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend chapter twenty-nine of the code of West Virginia,
one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article three-d, relating to
enacting a standardized false alarm ordinance; defining terms;
providing for public safety agency response; requiring
registration; establishing fees; providing for penalties for
violations; establishing a system of administration; and
establishing conditions for suspension or loss of
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter twenty-nine of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding
thereto a new article, designated article three-d, to read as
ARTICLE 3D. MODEL FALSE ALARM ORDINANCES.
(a) The purpose of this article is to:
(1) Enact a standardized false alarm ordinance which shall be
utilized by any county which chooses to adopt a false alarm
(2) To encourage alarm users and alarm companies to properly
use alarm systems and maintain their operational effectiveness in
order to reduce or eliminate the incidence of false alarms.
(b) This article governs systems intended to summon public
response, and requires registration, establishes
fees, provides for penalties for violations, establishes a system
of administration, and sets conditions for suspension or loss of
In this article:
(a) "Advisory board" means those persons designated by a
governing authority. It should be representative of the community,
alarm industry, and public safety agencies. The advisory board
should review and recommend false alarm reduction efforts and
report to the governing authority of its jurisdiction.
(b) "Alarm administrator" means a person or persons designated
by the governing authority to administer, control and review false alarm reduction efforts. In counties with an enhanced 911 system,
the director of E-911 shall be the alarm administrator.
(c) "Alarm company" means the business, by an individual,
partnership, corporation or other entity of selling, leasing,
maintaining, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving,
installing or monitoring an alarm system in an alarm site.
(d) "Alarm dispatch request" means a notification to a
that an alarm, either manual or automatic has
been activated at a particular alarm site.
(e) "Alarm registration" or permit means the notification by
an alarm company or an alarm user to the alarm administrator that
an alarm system has been installed and is in use.
(f) "Alarm review board" should consist of five members as
follows: The alarm administrator, a dispatcher or other person
appointed by the public safety governing authority, a local alarm
company representative appointed by the West Virginia burglar and
fire alarm association and two members of the public at large,
appointed by the governing authority to deal with conflicts and
disputes that cannot be resolved at a lower level.
(g) "Alarm site" means a single fixed premises or location
served by an alarm system or systems. If a separate alarm system
is installed in an individual unit within a multi-tenant building or complex at the expense of the tenant that individual unit shall
be considered a separate alarm site
(h) "Alarm system" means a device or series of devices,
including, but not limited to, systems interconnected with a radio
frequency method such as cellular or private radio signals, which
emit or transmit a remote or local audible, visual or electronic
signal indicating an alarm condition and intended to summon public
safety agency response, including a local alarm system. "Alarm
system" does not include an alarm installed on a vehicle or person
unless the vehicle or personal alarm is permanently located at a
(i) "Alarm user" means any person, firm, partnership,
corporation or other entity who or which
uses or is in control of
any alarm system at its alarm site.
(j) "Alarm user awareness class" means a class for the purpose
of educating alarm users about responsible use and operation of
alarm systems and the problems created by false alarms.
(k) "Automatic voice dialer" means any electrical, electronic,
mechanical or other
device capable of being programmed to send a
prerecorded voice message, when activated, over a telephone line,
radio or other communication system, to a communication center.
(l) "Cancellation" or "responding agency alarm dispatch
cancellation" is the process by which an alarm company providing
monitoring verifies with the alarm user or responsible party that
a false alarm has occurred and that there is not an existing
situation at the alarm site requiring public safety agency
(m) "Communications center" means the location within each
service area which receives all requests for public safety agency
response and dispatches the appropriate agency as needed.
(n) "Conversion" means the transaction or process by which one
alarm company begins monitoring of a previously unmonitored alarm
system or an alarm system previously monitored by another alarm
(o) "Duress alarm" means a silent alarm system signal
generated by the manual activation of a device intended to signal
a life threatening situation or a crime in progress requiring
public safety agency response.
(p) "False alarm" means an alarm dispatch request to a
communication center for a public safety agency response, when the
responding officer finds no evidence of a legitimate response
requirement after having completed a timely investigation of the
alarm site. Multiple signals transmitted from the same signaling
device within a twenty-four hour period from Monday at eight o'clock ante meridian to Friday at six o'clock post meridian, or a
seventy-two hour period from Friday at six o'clock post meridian to
Monday at eight o'clock ante meridian will constitute one false
(q) "Holdup alarm" means a silent alarm signal generated by
the manual activation of a device intended to signal a robbery in
(r) "Keyholder" means an individual designated by the alarm
user who has agreed to receive notification of an alarm activation,
respond to the alarm site within thirty minutes of notification,
and upon request grant access to the alarm site and deactivate the
alarm system if such becomes necessary.
(s) "Keypad" means a device that allows control of an alarm
system by the manual entering of a coded sequence of numbers or
(t) "License" means all licenses governing alarm companies in
accordance with the existing
laws of this state, including business
registration, contractor license, low voltage electrician license,
and NICET certification.
(u) "Local alarm system" means any alarm system that is not
monitored but annunciates an alarm only by an internal or external
(v) "Monitoring" means the process by which an alarm company receives signals from an alarm system and relays an alarm dispatch
request to the county communication center for the purpose of
summoning public safety agency response to the alarm site.
(w) "One plus duress alarm" means the manual activation of a
silent alarm signal by entering at a keypad a code that adds one to
the last digit of the normal arm/disarm code.
(x) "Panic" means an audible alarm system signal generated by
the manual activation of a device intended to signal a life
threatening or emergency situation requiring public safety agency
(y) "Person" means an individual, corporation, partnership,
association, organization or similar entity.
(z) "Public safety agency authority" means the commissioner,
superintendent, sheriff, chief of police, fire chief, director of
a public safety agency or an authorized representative.
(aa) "Takeover" means the transaction or process by which an
alarm user takes over control of an existing alarm system, which
was previously controlled by another alarm user.
(bb) "Verify" means an attempt, by the alarm company, or its
representative, to contact the alarm site by telephonic or other
electronic means, whether or not actual contact with a person is
made, before requesting public safety agency response, in an
attempt to avoid an unnecessary alarm dispatch request.
(cc) "Zones" are subdivisions into which an alarm system is
divided to indicate the general location from which an alarm system
signal is transmitted.
§29-3D-3. Registration required; application; fee;
transferability; false statements.
(a) No alarm user shall operate, or cause to be operated, an
alarm system at its alarm site without a valid alarm registration
issued by the alarm administrator. A separate registration is
required for each alarm site.
(b) The registration fee for an alarm site should reflect the
administration cost and shall follow these guidelines: Residential
alarm users (single family dwellings) shall be assessed a one-time
registration fee of no more than twenty-five dollars; all other
alarm users (commercial, industrial, not-for-profit, multiple unit
residential) shall be assessed a one-time registration fee of no
more than fifty dollars. No refund of a registration fee will be
made. The registration fee shall be submitted to the alarm
administrator within thirty days after the alarm installation or
takeover of an alarm system from previous alarm user.
(c) Upon receipt of a completed application form and the alarm
registration fee, the alarm administrator shall register the
applicant unless the applicant has:
(1) Failed to pay a fine assessed under section seven of this article, or,
(2) Had an alarm registration for the alarm site suspended or
revoked, and the violation causing the suspension or revocation has
not been corrected.
(d) Each alarm registration application shall include the
following information: The name, complete address (including
apartment or suite number), and telephone numbers of the person who
will be the registration holder and be responsible for the proper
maintenance and operation of the alarm system and payment of fees
assessed under this article; the classification of the alarm site
as either residential (including condominiums, mobile homes, etc.),
commercial or apartment; for each alarm system located at the alarm
site, the classification of the alarm system, i.e., burglary,
holdup, duress, fire, panic, or other, for each purpose whether
audible or silent; mailing address if different from the alarm
site; accurate driving instructions to the alarm site; any
dangerous or special conditions present at the alarm site; type of
business (if any) conducted at the alarm site; signed certification
from the alarm user stating: (i) The date of installation,
conversion or takeover of the alarm system, whichever is
applicable; (ii) the name, address, and phone number of the alarm
company performing the alarm system installation, conversion or
alarm system takeover and responsible for providing repair service to the alarm system; (iii) the phone number of the alarm company
monitoring the alarm system if different from the installing alarm
company; (iv) that a set of written operating instructions for the
alarm system, including written guidelines on how to avoid false
alarms, have been left with the applicant, and that the alarm
company has trained the applicant in proper use of the alarm
system, including instructions on how to avoid false alarms; and
(v) that public safety agency response may be based on factors such
as: availability of police and/or fire units, priority of calls,
weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions and
(e) Any false statement of a material fact made by an
applicant for the purpose of obtaining an alarm registration shall
be sufficient cause for refusal to issue a registration.
(f) An alarm registration cannot be transferred to another
person or alarm site. In the event of an alarm system takeover the
new alarm user shall reregister the alarm site within thirty
business days of the date of the takeover. An alarm user shall
inform the alarm administrator of any change that alters any
information listed on the registration application within thirty
(g) All fees owed by an applicant shall be paid before a
registration may be issued.
(h) Upon registration the alarm user will be given a thirty
day grace period during which fines outlined in section seven of
this article and suspension of response outlined in section eight
of this article will not be imposed. At the end of the thirty-day
grace period all fines and other penalties will become applicable.
§29-3D-3a. Alarm systems in apartment buildings and complexes.
(a) The owner or property manager of an apartment building or
complex shall obtain an alarm registration for any alarm system
operated within the building or complex including offices or common
areas with the exceptions outlined in subsections (b), (c), and (d)
of this section.
The annual fee for these registrations or the
renewal of these registrations shall be the same as the fee for a
nonresidential alarm site.
(b) If a tenant has installed at tenant's expense an
individual alarm system in an apartment complex unit the tenant
shall register the alarm system with the alarm administrator and
shall be subject to the same fees for residential alarm users as
outlined in subsection (b), section three of this article. The
tenant shall also provide the name of a representative of the
apartment owner or property manager who can grant access to the
apartment to the alarm company and public safety agencies.
(c) For purposes of enforcing this article against an
individual unit as outlined in subsection (b) of this section, the tenant is responsible for false alarms emitted from the alarm
system in the individual unit.
(d) Each apartment unit with an individual alarm system that
is installed at the expense of a tenant shall be considered a
separate alarm site.
§29-3D-4. Duties of the alarm user.
(a) An alarm user shall: Maintain the premises and the alarm
system in a manner that will minimize or eliminate false alarms;
make every reasonable effort to respond or cause a keyholder to
respond to the alarm system's location within thirty minutes when
notified by the communication center to deactivate a malfunctioning
alarm system, to provide access to the premises, or to provide
alternative security for the premises; and not manually activate an
alarm for any reason other than an occurrence of an event that the
alarm system was intended to report.
(b) An alarm user shall have a properly licensed alarm company
inspect the alarm system after two false alarms have occurred in a
one-month period. The alarm administrator may waive an inspection
requirement if it determines that a false alarm(s) could not have
been related to a defect or malfunction in the alarm system. After
four false alarms have occurred within a one-month period the alarm
user shall have a properly licensed alarm company modify the alarm system to be more false alarm resistant or provide additional user
training as appropriate.
(c) The use by an alarm user of automatic voice dialers is
prohibited. Each occurrence by which an automatic voice dialer
transmits a prerecorded message directly to a communication center
shall be subject to a fine of one hundred dollars.
(d) An alarm user shall maintain at each alarm site a set of
written operating instructions for each alarm system.
(e)An alarm user shall be responsible for providing and
maintaining up-to-date keyholder information to the alarm company.
§29-3D-5. Duties of alarm company.
(a)On and after the effective date of this article, alarm
companies shall not program alarm systems so that they are capable
of sending one plus duress alarms. Alarm companies may continue to
report one plus duress alarms received from alarm systems
programmed with one plus duress prior to enactment of this article.
However, upon enactment of this article, when a takeover or
conversion occurs or if an alarm user requests an alarm system
inspection or modification pursuant to subsection (c), section four
of this article, an alarm company shall remove the one plus duress
alarm capability from such alarm system. Duress alarms shall not
be prohibited; however, the duress code used to transmit the duress signal shall be sufficiently different from the arm/disarm code so
as not to cause a false alarm.
(b) On and after the effective date of this article, alarm
companies shall not install a device activating a hold-up alarm
which is a single action nonrecessed button. An alarm company
shall remove all single action nonrecessed buttons when a takeover
or conversion occurs. Cost for any conversion related to the
enactment of this article will be paid by the alarm user.
(c) The alarm company shall adjust the mechanism or cause the
mechanism to be adjusted so that an alarm signal audible on the
exterior of an alarm site will sound for no longer than ten minutes
after being activated or fifteen minutes for systems operating
under Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. standards three hundred
sixty-five or six hundred nine.
(d) After completion of the installation an alarm company
employee shall provide to the alarm user the website address and
mailing address of the West Virginia enhanced 911 council which
will maintain a current copy of this article and will review with
the alarm user a customer false alarm prevention checklist approved
by the alarm administrator.
(e) An alarm company performing monitoring services shall:
(1) Offer a training period in which no request for dispatch
by a public service agency will occur up to the first seventy-two hours after installation of an alarm system at the discretion of
the alarm user, but rather will use that period of time to train
the alarm user on proper use of the alarm system unless
circumstances necessitate immediate requests for response;
(2) Report alarm signals to the communication center by using
telephone numbers designated by the alarm administrator;
(3) Attempt to verify every alarm signal, except a fire,
duress, or holdup alarm activation before requesting a public
safety agency response to an alarm system signal;
(4) Communicate alarm dispatch requests to the communication
center in a manner and form determined by the alarm administrator
and the alarm advisory board;
(5) Communicate cancellations to the communication center in
a manner and form determined by the alarm administrator and the
alarm advisory board;
(6) Ensure that all alarm users of alarm systems equipped with
a duress or holdup alarm are given adequate training as to the
proper use of the duress or holdup alarm;
(7) Communicate any available information about the location
of the alarm;
(8) Communicate type of alarm activation (silent or audible,
interior or perimeter);
(9) Provide alarm user registration number when requesting
(10) Endeavor to contact the alarm user when an alarm dispatch
request is made; and
(11) On and after the effective date of this article, alarm
companies that perform monitoring services shall maintain for a
period of at least one year, records relating to alarm dispatch
request. Records shall include the name, address and phone number
of the alarm user, the alarm system zone(s) activated, the time of
alarm dispatch request and evidence of
an attempt to verify. The
alarm administrator may request copies of such records for
individually named alarm users.
§29-3D-6. Duties of the alarm administrator.
(a) The alarm administrator shall:
(1) Designate a manner, form and telephone numbers for the
communication of alarm dispatch requests;
(2) Establish a procedure to accept cancellation of alarm
dispatch requests; and
(3) Assume responsibility for billing alarm users who fall
within the penalty phase of this article.
(b) The alarm administrator shall establish a procedure to
record such information on alarm dispatch requests necessary to
permit the alarm administrator to maintain records, including, but not limited to, the following information. This information may be
relayed by the responding public safety agency officer at the time
of clearance to communication center dispatchers, who will then
record said information on the call record:
(1) Identification of the registration number for the alarm
(2) Identification of the alarm site;
(3) Date and time alarm dispatch request was received;
(4) Date and time of public safety agency officer arrival at
the alarm site;
(5) Zone, if available;
(6) Name of alarm user's representative on premises, if any;
(7) Identification of the responsible alarm company;
(8) Whether unable to locate the address; and
(9) Cause of alarm, if known.
(c) The alarm administrator shall establish a procedure for
the notification to the alarm user of a false alarm. Options
include but are not limited to the
officer leaving a door hanger or
notice at the alarm site. The notice shall include the following
(1) The date and time of public safety agency response to the
(2) The identification number of the responding public safety
agency officer, and;
(3) A statement urging the alarm user to ensure that the alarm
system is in good working order, regularly inspected and serviced
in order to avoid false alarms and resulting fines.
(d) If there is reason to believe that an alarm system is not
being used or maintained in a manner that ensures proper operation
and suppresses false alarms, the alarm administrator may require a
conference with an alarm user and the alarm company responsible for
the repair of the alarm system to review the circumstances of each
(e) The alarm administrator shall oversee the creation and
implementation of an alarm user awareness class. All costs
relating to the implementation of the class shall be paid with fees
imposed by the provisions of this article. The alarm administrator
may request the assistance of alarm companies, the West Virginia
burglar and fire alarm association and public safety agencies in
developing and implementing the class. The class shall inform
alarm users of the problems created by false alarms and teach alarm
users how to operate their alarm systems without generating false
alarms. The class shall be administered as a joint effort of the
alarm administrator and the West Virginia burglar and fire alarm
(f) The alarm administrator shall provide all application
materials described in this article, including copies of this
article, for distribution to alarm users and alarm companies.
(a) An alarm user shall be subject to fines, warnings and
suspension or revocation of registration, depending on the number
of false alarms emitted from an alarm system and responded to by a
public safety agency within each one-month period beginning the
first day of the month and ending the last day of the month based
upon the following schedule:
(1) For one false alarm, there is no fine;
(2) For two false alarms, the fine shall be fifty dollars;
(3) For three false alarms, the fine shall be one hundred
(4) For four or more false alarms, the fine shall be two
hundred dollars per each occurrence of a false alarm.
(b) In addition, any person, operating a nonregistered alarm
system, whether suspended or never registered, will be subject to
a citation and assessment of a two hundred dollar fine for each
false alarm, in addition to any other fines imposed by this
(c) An alarm user shall have the option of attending an alarm
user awareness class in lieu of paying a fine prescribed by this section: Provided, That no alarm user may take advantage of this
substitution more than once.
(d) If cancellation occurs prior to a public safety agency
officer arriving at the scene, the occurrence does not constitute
a false alarm for the purpose of setting the amount of any
(e) The alarm company shall
be fined if the officer responding
to the false alarm determines that an
employee of the alarm company
has caused the false alarm by failing to report alarm system
maintenance at the alarm site. This citation will not count
against the alarm user.
(f) The alarm company can be fined for failure to verify if
the alarm administrator determines the existence of a consistent
pattern of such failure or that the alarm company has a written
policy against verification.
(g) The alarm company may be fined if the alarm administrator
determines that an alarm company employee made a false statement
concerning the inspection of an alarm site or the performance of an
(h) Refusal by a keyholder to respond to any alarm constitutes
a false alarm for purposes of assessing fines and penalties.
(i) Invalid or out-of-date information that is determined to
be the cause of keyholder non
response to any alarm constitutes a
false alarm for purposes of assessing fines and penalties.
(j) In jurisdictions with multiple ordinances in place (i.e.,
this article and an existing city ordinance) the alarm user shall
not be fined by more than one entity for any single incident.
§29-3D-8. Suspension of response.
(a) The alarm administrator may suspend alarm response if it
is determined that:
(1) The alarm user has had four or more false alarms in one
(2) There is a false statement of a material fact in the
application for a registration;
(3) The alarm user has failed to make timely payment of a fine
assessed under section seven of this article or fee assessed under
section three of this article;
(4) The alarm user has failed to submit a written
certification from an alarm company, that complies with the
requirements of this article, stating that the alarm system has
been inspected and repaired, if necessary, by the alarm company.
(b) Any and all response during the period in which an alarm
registration is suspended is subject to the maximum fines as set in
section seven of this article. An alarm company shall not continue to request public safety agency dispatch to an alarm site after
notification by the alarm administrator that the registration has
been suspended or revoked and is subject to enforcement and
penalties set in section twelve of this article.
(c) Unless there is separate indication that there is a
legitimate need for response, the public safety agency authority
may refuse public safety agency response to an alarm dispatch
request at an alarm site for which the alarm registration is
(d) If the alarm registration is reinstated pursuant to
section ten of this article, the alarm administrator may suspend
alarm response if it is determined that two false alarms have
occurred within sixty days after the reinstatement date.
(a) At the time of installation of the alarm system the alarm
company shall provide to the alarm user the website address and
mailing address of the West Virginia enhanced 911 council which
will maintain a current copy of this article. The alarm user shall
sign an affidavit stating that they have received the information
and are required to obtain a copy of the article. The alarm
company shall keep each affidavit on file.
(b) The alarm administrator will notify the alarm user and the
alarm company in writing after the fourth false alarm that alarm response
has been suspended. This notice of suspension will also
include the amount of the fine for each false alarm and a
description of the appeals procedure available to the alarm user
and the alarm company.
(a) An alarm user may appeal the assessment of a fine,
suspension, or request reinstatement to the alarm administrator.
An appeal fee of twenty-five dollars shall accompany the appeal by
the alarm user. Appeal fees shall be returned to the alarm user if
the appeal is upheld. The filing of an appeal with the alarm
administrator stays the assessment of the fine or suspension until
the alarm administrator makes a final decision.
(b) The alarm user shall file a written appeal to the alarm
administrator by setting forth the reasons for the appeal within
ten days after receipt of the fine.
(c) If the alarm administrator denies the issuance or renewal
of an alarm registration, or suspends response, the alarm
administrator shall send written notice of the action and a
statement of the right to an appeal to either
the applicant or
alarm user and the alarm company.
(d) A second level of appeal is available to the alarm review
board in cases where the alarm user is not satisfied with the
decision reached at a lower level.
(e) The applicant or alarm user or the alarm company on behalf
of the alarm user may appeal the decision of the alarm
administrator to the alarm review board by filing a written request
for a review setting forth the reasons for the appeal within twenty
days after receipt of the notice from the alarm administrator.
(f) The alarm review board shall conduct a formal hearing and
consider the evidence by any interested person(s). The board shall
make its decision on the basis of the preponderance of evidence
presented at the hearing. The board shall render a decision within
thirty days after the request for an appeal hearing is filed. The
board shall affirm or reverse the assessment of the fine. The
decision of the board is final as to administrative remedies of the
(g) Filing of a request for appeal shall stay the action by
the alarm administrator suspending a registration or requiring
payment of a fine, until the alarm review board has completed the
review. If a request for appeal is not made within the twenty-day
period, the action of the alarm administrator is final.
(a) Any person whose alarm response
has been suspended may
have alarm response
reinstated by the alarm administrator or the
alarm review board if the person has done by one or more of the
(1) Submit an updated application and the registration fee;
(2) Pay, or otherwise resolve, all citations and fines;
(3) Submit a certification from an alarm company that complies
with the requirements of this article, stating that the alarm
system has been inspected and repaired, if necessary, by the alarm
company; and one or more of the following, if applicable:
(A) Submit proof that an employee of the alarm company caused
the false alarm;
(B) File with the alarm administrator a certificate showing
that the alarm user has successfully completed the alarm user
as provided under subsection (e), section six of
this article; or
(C) File with the alarm administrator a written statement from
the alarm company that the alarm system has been inspected and
found to be in good working order or repaired so as to be in good
§29-3D-12. Enforcement and penalties.
Enforcement of this article may be by civil action and/or by
criminal prosecution, for offenses under local law.
Information contained in registration applications and
applications for appeals shall be held in confidence by all
employees or representatives of the county and by any third-party administrator or employees of a third-party administrator with
access to such information. Under no circumstances may such
information be sold, divulged, or used in any way by any county or
third-party for soliciting or any other purpose.
§29-3D-14. Government immunity.
Registration of an alarm system is not intended to, nor does
it, create a contract, duty or obligation, either expressed or
implied, of response. Any and all liability and consequential
damage resulting from the failure to respond to a notification is
hereby disclaimed and governmental immunity as provided by law is
retained. By registering an alarm system, the alarm user
acknowledges that police response may be based on factors such as:
availability of police units, priority of calls, weather
conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions and staffing
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to enact a standardized
false alarm ordinance for localities wishing to adopt it.
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.