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FIR-6.06 - Repetitive Commercial Alarm Responses

REPETITIVE COMMERCIAL ALARM RESPONSES
Administrative Rule Adopted by Portland Fire & Rescue Pursuant to Rule-Making Authority
ARB-FIR-6.06
 


I.   GENERAL
 
     A.  This policy is established June 19, 2007.
 
     B.  It is the purpose to identify locations that are experiencing multiple emergency alarm activations that turn out to be false alarms. Through early recognition of frequent false alarms coupled with early Code Enforcement action, a reduction in the total number of repetitive alarm responses should be achieved.
 
     C.  This policy applies to all commercial occupancies where Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) has authority.
 
     D.  The City of Portland has relied on responding fire companies to recognize frequent false alarm sources and to refer the same to the Fire Marshal’s Office (FMO) for code enforcement such as correcting the problem in a timely fashion. This system has had problems both in recognition and in filing of the needed referrals. The ongoing result is a continuing and growing number of emergency responses that put the public and emergency responders at risk. NOTE: this policy does not restrict the company officer in regards to generating a Company Referral to the FMO.
 
II.  SPECIFIC
 
     A.  REFERENCES
 
          1.  Portland City Code (PCC) Title 31.10.070
 
     B.  DEFINITIONS
 
          1.  False Alarm: any alarm that does not have a true emergency related to it. This includes but is not limited to: malicious or intentional activation, accidental activation (such as bumping a manual pull station), careless activation (such as construction work, burnt toast, cooking), or poor maintenance practices.
 
          2.  Responsible Party: property owner or their representative who shall respond to the site during/following an alarm. They will coordinate the restoration of the system as well as security of the property. MAXIMUM ALLOWED RESPONSE TIME IS TWO (2) HOURS FOLLOWING THE INITIAL ALARM.
 
III.  PROCEDURES: RESPONDING PF&R COMPANIES
 
     A.  PF&R Fire Companies shall respond on all emergency alarm signals until the alarm has been determined to be false. At least one responding unit shall continue to the scene to verify the status of an alarm, including those alarms that have been reported through Dispatch as being false or accidental. A code one response on reported false alarms is acceptable. 
 
     B.  Companies responding to or discovering a false alarm shall attempt to gather details on the nature/cause of the false alarm as well as contact information for the responsible party. Such details shall be entered into the Incident System to aid in future code enforcement efforts.
  
IV.  PROCEDURES: FMO
 
     A.  The PF&R Incident System shall track false alarms for response addresses on a rolling 12-month time frame. When an increment of three (3) false alarms during the previous 12-months are entered into the system for a specific address, an electronic notification (e-mail) shall be generated and sent to the designated person(s) in the FMO.
 
          1.  The assigned District Inspector shall evaluate the situation and determine the level of response needed from the FMO. When notification of the first three false alarms is received, the initial letter sent will usually be the “Notification of Repetitive False Alarms” requesting immediate abatement/repair and shall include information relating to the citation process allowed for in PCC Title 31. If the inspector and their supervisor deem it appropriate due to life safety issues, the level of response from this office may move directly to the first citation.
 
     B.  When an additional three (3) false alarms are entered into the system for the same address (a total of 6 in a 12-month period), an electronic notification (e-mail) shall be generated and sent to the designated person(s) in the FMO.
 
          1.  The assigned Inspector shall evaluate the situation and:
 
               a.  Send the “Notification of Repetitive False Alarm, Need for Immediate Repair” demanding immediate abatement/repair and put the property owner on notice that additional false alarms will result in citation. If the inspector and their supervisor deem it appropriate due to life safety issues, the level of response from this office may move directly to the first citation.
 
               b.  (Optional) Visit the property/business owner and stress the likelihood of future actions if the system problems are not corrected. Issuing an inspection report directing the property/business owner to correct the problem(s) may be done at this time.
 
               c.  Consider requiring the installation of a lock box.
 
     C.  When an additional three (3) false alarms are entered into the system for the same address (a total of 9 in a 12-month period), an electronic notification (e-mail) shall be generated and sent to the designated person(s) in the FMO.
 
          1.  The assigned Inspector shall evaluate the situation and:
 
               a.  Send the “Final Notice from the Fire Marshal” demanding immediate abatement/repair and notifying the property owner that they are being issued a citation.
 
               b.  Issue the first citation.
 
               c.  Issue an inspection report directing the property/business owner to correct the problem(s).
 
               d.  This series may be postponed if the inspector and supervisor believe such action would be appropriate.
 
               e.  Consider requiring the installation of a lock box.
 
     D.  Citation fees are specified in PCC 31 and are escalating for repeated violations. Refer to PCC 31 for current fees. Example: first citation = $500, second citation = $1000, third citation = $2000.
 
     E.  Examples of citable situations:
 
          ·  failure to repair and maintain the system,
          ·  failure to immediately repair and maintain the system in a high-risk situation such as an assembly occupancy, multi-family dwelling or hazardous materials operation,
          ·  RP failing to arrive within the two-hour response time limit.
 
     F.  At any point the FMO may choose to file for a Code Hearing to seek additional penalties and enforcement.

 

HISTORY

Administrative rule adopted by Chief of Portland Fire & Rescue and filed for inclusion in PPD June 25, 2007.