Huntsville, TX Alarm System Ordinance
Chapter 4 - ALARM SYSTEMS
Sec 4-1 - Purpose
Sec 4-2 - Definitions
Sec 4-3 - Permit required
Sec 4-4 - Permit Application
Sec 4-5 - Transferability of permit; false statements
Sec 4-6 - Permit duration and renewal
Sec 4-7 - Penalties related to false alarms and noncompliance
Sec 4-8 - Alarm system operation and maintenance
Sec 4-9 - Audible or local broadcast alarms
Sec 4-10 - Indirect alarm reporting
Sec 4-11 - Reporting of alarm through relaying intermediary
Sec 4-12 - Direct alarm reporting; automatic alarm notification prohibited
Sec 4-13 - Monitoring procedures
Sec 4-14 - Alarm system operating instructions
Sec 4-15 - Duties of an alarm company
Sec 4-16 - Grounds for denial of a permit or revocation
Sec 4-17 - Reinstatement of a permit
Sec 4-18 - Appeal from administrative sanction or denial or revocation of permit
Sec 4-19 - Notification
Sec 4-20 - Alarm dispatch records
Sec 4-21 - System performance reviews and consultations
Sec 4-22 - Violations; penalty
Sec 4-23 - Confidentiality
Sec 4-24 - Government immunity
Sec 4-25 - Testing; other violations
Sec. 4-1 – Purpose
(a) The purpose of this article is to encourage alarm users and alarm companies to properly use
and maintain the operational effectiveness of alarm systems in order to improve the reliability
of alarm systems and reduce or eliminate false alarms.
(b) This article governs alarm systems intended to summon law enforcement response, and
requires registration, establishes fees, provides for penalties for violations, establishes a
system of administration, and sets conditions for suspension of police response or revocation of
Sec. 4-2 - Definitions
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings
ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
Alarm administrator means a person designated by the governing authority to administer, control
and review false alarm reduction efforts and administer the provisions of this article.
Alarm dispatch request means a notification to a law enforcement agency that an alarm, either
manual or automatic, has been activated at a particular alarm site.
Alarm installation company means a person in the business of selling, providing, maintaining,
servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving or installing an alarm system in an alarm site. This
definition shall also include individuals or firms that install and service the alarm systems that will be used
in their private or proprietary facilities. This does not include persons doing installation or repair work
where such work is performed without compensation of any kind (i.e., do-it-yourselfers).
Alarm notification means a notification intended to summon the police that is designed either to
be initiated purposely by a person or by an alarm system that responds to a stimulus characteristic of
Alarm permit means authorization granted by the alarm administrator to an alarm user to operate
an alarm system.
Alarm site means a single premises or location (one street address) served by an alarm system
or systems that are under the control of one owner. Each unit, if served by a separate alarm system in a
multiunit building or complex, shall be considered a separate alarm site.
Alarm system means a device or system that emits, transmits, or relays a signal intended to
summon, or that would reasonably be expected to summon police or fire services of the city, including,
but not limited to, local broadcast alarms. The term "alarm system" does not include:
(1) An alarm installed on a vehicle unless the vehicle is permanently located at a site;
(2) An alarm designed to alert only the inhabitants of a premise which does not have a
local broadcast alarm.
Alarm user means any person who has contracted for monitoring, repair, installation or
maintenance service from an alarm installation company or monitoring company for an alarm system, or
who owns or operates an alarm system which is not monitored, maintained or repaired under contract.
Alarm user awareness class means a class conducted for the purpose of educating alarm users
about the responsible use, operation, and maintenance of alarm systems and the problems created by
Appeal process means the process that a permit holder aggrieved by a decision must make by
filing a formal request in writing to the city manager requesting a change in, or confirmation of, that
decision made regarding an alarm issue must follow to appeal the decision of the chief.
Arming station means a device that allows control of an alarm system.
Automatic voice dialer/automatic alarm notification 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 law enforcement, public safety or
emergency services agency requesting dispatch.
Burglar alarm notification means the notification intended to summon police, which is initiated or
triggered manually or by an alarm system designed to respond to a stimulus characteristic of
Cancellation means the process where response is terminated when a monitoring company
(designated by the alarm user) for the alarm site notifies the responding law enforcement agency that
there is not an existing situation at the alarm site requiring law enforcement agency response after an
alarm dispatch request.
Certificate of compliance means a written certification from an alarm installation company stating
that the alarm system has been inspected and repaired (if necessary) and/or additional training has been
conducted by the alarm installation company or law enforcement agency.
Chief means the chief of police of the city or his authorized representative.
City manager means the city manager of the city or his authorized representative and shall not be
a police officer or a firefighter of the city.
Duress alarm means a silent alarm system signal generated by the entry of a designated code
into an arming station in order to signal that the alarm user is being forced to turn off the system and
requires law enforcement response.
False alarm means an alarm dispatch request to a law enforcement agency when a response is
made by the law enforcement agency within 30 minutes of the alarm dispatch request and the responding
law enforcement officer finds from an inspection of the interior and/or exterior of the alarm site no
evidence of a criminal offense or attempted criminal offense.
Holdup/robbery alarm means a silent alarm signal generated by the manual activation of a device
intended to signal a robbery in progress or immediately after it has occurred.
Law enforcement authority means the city of Huntsville Police Department.
License means a license issued by the state department of public safety private security bureau
to an alarm installation company and monitoring company to sell, install, monitor, repair, or replace alarm
Local broadcast means an alarm system that emits a signal at an alarm site that is audible or
visible from the exterior of the structure.
Monitoring means the process by which a monitoring company receives signals from an alarm
system and relays an alarm dispatch request to the municipality for the purpose of summoning law
enforcement to the alarm site.
Monitoring company means a person in the business of providing monitoring services.
Offense means operating an alarm system without a valid permit, which shall include a revoked
Panic alarm means an audible alarm generated by the deliberate activation of a panic device.
Permit holder means the person designated in the application as required in section 4-2 4-3 who
is responsible for responding to alarms and giving access to the site and who is responsible for proper
maintenance and operation of the alarm system and payment of fees.
Person means an individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization or similar entity.
Responder means an individual capable of reaching the alarm site within 30 minutes and having
access to the alarm site, the code to the alarm system and the authority to approve repairs to the alarm
Verify means an attempt by the monitoring company or its representative to contact the alarm site
and/ or alarm user by telephone, whether or not actual contact with the person is made, to determine
whether an alarm signal is valid before requesting law enforcement dispatch following the alarm verification and notification procedure.
Sec. 4-3 - Permit required.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly operates or causes
to be operated an alarm system without an alarm permit issued by the chief. An alarm
permit is not valid if it has been denied or revoked, has not been renewed or has expired.
A separate permit is required at each alarm site.
(b) It is a defense to prosecution under subsection (a) of this section that the person
obtained a permit to operate the alarm system within 30 days of an alarm notification.
(c) A $10 fee shall be charged for the issuance of each residential permit and a $30 fee for
each commercial permit.
(d) Upon receipt of the required administrative fee and completed application form, the chief
shall issue an alarm permit unless:
(1) There is cause to believe the equipment responsible for initiating an alarm will
not be maintained and operated in accordance with this article;
(2) The applicant will not comply with any provision of this article; or
(3) A previous alarm permit was revoked or suspended after eight or more false
alarms during the preceding 12-month period.
(e) A permit holder shall notify the Chief of Police any changes to name, address or phone
number of such holder no later than thirty (30) days after the change.
Sec. 4-4 - Permit application.
Each alarm permit application must contain the following information and be complete, true and
accurate in its entirety:
(a) The name, address, and telephone number of the permit holder who will be responsible
for the proper maintenance and operation of the alarm system and payment of fees
assessed under this chapter;
(b) The names and telephone numbers of an alarm system permit holder or of two persons
who are able to and have agreed to:
(1) Receive notification at any time;
(2) Come to the alarm site within thirty minutes after receiving a request to do so
from the police department; and
(3) Grant access to the alarm site and to deactivate the alarm system, if necessary;
(c) Classification of the alarm site as either residential or commercial; including, where the
alarm site is an apartment, the building number and the apartment number, if so
(d) The name and telephone number of the alarm system monitoring company that has
agreed to receive calls for the permitted alarm system, if applicable;
(e) For each alarm system located at the alarm site the purpose of the alarm system (i.e.,
burglary, robbery, or personal hostage); and
(f) Other information required by the chief which is necessary for the enforcement of this
Sec. 4-5 - Transferability of permit; false statements.
(a) Any false statement of a material matter made by an applicant for the purpose of
obtaining an alarm permit shall be sufficient cause for refusal to issue a permit.
(b) An alarm permit cannot be transferred to another permit holder except by authorization of
the chief of police. A permit holder shall inform the chief of any changes that alters any
information listed on the permit application within thirty (30) calendar days. No fee will be
assessed for such changes.
(c) A permit holder shall cancel a permit for any alarm system which is removed from an
alarm site or which otherwise ceases to come under the permitting requirements of this
chapter. Cancellation may be accomplished by returning the permit to the chief.
(d) All fees owed by an applicant must be paid before a permit may be issued or renewed.
(e) An alarm permit shall be required for city, state, county and federal government Entities;
however, no fee will be charged for those permits.
Sec. 4-6. - Permit duration and renewal.
An Alarm Permit shall expire twelve (12) months from the date of issuance, and must be renewed
annually by submitting an updated application and a registration renewal fee. It is the permit holder's
responsibility to renew the alarm permit prior to the expiration date. A non-refundable application fee of
$10.00 for a residential permit and $30.00 for a commercial permit is required for issuance of an alarm
Sec. 4-7 – Penalties related to false alarms and noncompliance.
(a) If an alarm system transmits more than three false alarm notifications within a 12-month
period, the permit holder shall pay a service fee for the fourth and each subsequent false
burglar alarm notification according to the fee schedule shown below:
(1) For each response for the first through the 3rd ..………… No Fee
(2) For each response after the 3rd through the 5th ………… $25.00
(3) For each response after the 5th through the 8th…………. $50.00
(4) For each response after the 8th……………..……………. $100.00
(1) For each response for the first through the 3rd …………. No Fee
(2) For each response after the 3rd through the 5th ………… $50.00
(3) For each response after the 5th through the 8th ………… $75.00
(4) For each response after the 8th…………………………... $100.00
(b) If an alarm system transmits more than two false panic alarm notifications within a 12-
month period, the permittee shall pay the maximum service fee permitted by state law,
but not more than $100, for the third and each subsequent false panic alarm notification.
(c) A tenant holding an individual alarm permit shall pay a false alarm notification fee related
to a transmission from the alarm system in the tenant’s unit.
(d) The permittee holding the master alarm permit holder shall pay a false alarm notification
fee related to a transmission from an unoccupied unit or a unit for which a tenant has not
obtained an individual alarm permit.
(e) The Chief of Police may investigate and waive payment of a service fee assessed under
this section which is later shown to have been, in the chief's sole determination, justified
or which was due to a natural or manmade catastrophe or other situation specifically
exempted by the chief.
(f) A permit holder shall pay a fee assessed under this section within 30 days of the date of
notice of such fee. If the fee is not paid within 30 days, a late fee will be added to the fee
in an amount equal to ten percent of the fee.
(g) A monitoring company shall pay a fee of $25.00 for failing to provide accurate information
to the city.
(h) An alarm user shall pay a fee of $50.00 for failure to provide a responder within 30
minutes when requested by a member of law enforcement authority.
(i) If the city receives notice of cancellation of the alarm dispatch request prior to law
enforcement arriving at the alarm site, such request shall not be considered to be a false
alarm for the purposes of this article.
(j) If law enforcement takes longer than 30 minutes to respond to the alarm dispatch
request, the request is not considered a false alarm for the purposes of this article.
(k) The Chief of Police may access a fee of $50.00 for any violation of section 4-3(e).
Sec. 4-8. - Proper alarm system operation and maintenance.
A permit holder or person in control of an alarm system shall:
(a) Maintain the premises containing an alarm system in a manner that ensures
proper operation of the alarm system;
(b) Maintain the alarm system in a manner that will minimize false alarm notifications;
(c) Respond or cause a representative to respond within a reasonable period of time, not to
exceed thirty minutes, when notified by the city to repair or deactivate a malfunctioning
alarm system or to provide security for the premises, or provide access to the premises,
(d) Not manually activate an alarm for any reason other than an occurrence of an event that
the alarm system was intended to report;
(e) Notify the police department prior to activation of an alarm for maintenance purposes;
(f) Shall notify the City if the permit holder relinquishes control of the alarm site and cancels
the permit. If a permit holder fails to notify the City under this section, the permit holder
shall pay fees/fines associated with the permit, if any.
Sec. 4-9. - Audible or local broadcast alarms.
(a) A permit holder or person in control of an alarm system that utilizes an audible alarm
shall adjust the mechanism or cause the mechanism to be adjusted so that upon
activation the audible alarm signal shall broadcast for no longer than 30 minutes after
Sec. 4-10. - Indirect alarm reporting.
(a) A person who is engaged in the business of relaying alarm notifications to the city shall:
(1) Communicate alarm notifications to the city in a manner and form determined by the
(2) Comply with the requirements of this chapter;
(3) Provide a local or toll free call-back telephone number when requested by the law
(4) Contact a representative of the alarm site when requested by the law enforcement
(5) Be licensed by the state board of private investigators and private security agencies.
Sec. 4-11 – Reporting of alarm through relaying intermediary.
A permit holder shall not report an alarm signal through a relaying intermediary that does not
meet the requirements of this article and any rules and regulations promulgated by the chief, is not
licensed by the Texas Department of Public Safety, Private Security Board or is not the owner of the
Sec. 4-12 - Direct alarm reporting; automatic alarm notification prohibited.
An alarm system which transmits automatic alarm notifications directly to the police department
on any line other than a line designated by the chief for such calls shall be prohibited.
Sec. 4-13 - Monitoring procedures.
Any monitoring company engaged in the business of monitoring alarm systems in the city shall:
(a) Report alarm signals only using telephone numbers designated by the chief;
(b) When reporting an alarm signal to the city, provide the alarm permit number and address
of the alarm site from which the alarm notification originated or any other known
information that is requested by dispatch.
Sec. 4-14 - Alarm system operating instructions.
A permit holder shall maintain at each alarm site a complete set of written operating instructions
for each alarm system. Special codes, combinations, or passwords must be included in these instructions.
Sec. 4-15 - Duties of an alarm company.
(a) An alarm installation company shall confirm that a valid alarm permit has been issued by
the city for an alarm site before performing any system conversion at the site.
(b) An alarm installation company that has a contract with a permit holder or person in
control of an alarm system shall send a certification to the chief within 30 days of
performing or causing the performance of an alarm system installation or conversion.
The certificate must state:
(1) The date of installation or conversion of the alarm system, whichever is
(2) The name, address, telephone number, and current state license number of the
alarm installation company providing the alarm system installation or conversion;
(3) The name, address, telephone number, and current state license number of the
monitoring company providing monitoring for the alarm system if different from
the alarm installation company under contract to provide installation or
conversion for the alarm system;
(4) That a complete set of written operating instructions for the alarm system,
including written guidelines on how to avoid false alarms has been left with the
(5) That the alarm installation company has trained the occupant in the proper use of
the alarm system, including instructions on how to avoid false alarms.
Sec. 4-16 - Grounds for denial of a permit or revocation.
(a) Grounds for denial of an alarm permit.
(1) The chief shall issue an alarm permit to the applicant unless one or more of the
following conditions are present:
A. The applicant fails to provide all of the information requested on the
application or submits an incomplete application;
B. The applicant gives false, misleading or untrue information of material
fact on the application;
C. The operation, as proposed by the applicant, would not comply with all
applicable laws, including, but not limited to, this article or the city
building, zoning or health codes; or
D. The applicant has failed to pay the application fee assessed pursuant to
this article that is due and owing.
(2) Denial of an alarm permit shall be effected by written denial, setting forth the
grounds for denial and mailed to the applicant by depositing the notice in the
United States Mail, addressed to the applicant with first class postage prepaid.
(b) Grounds for revocation of an alarm permit.
(1) The chief may revoke an alarm permit if he determines that:
A. The permit holder or his/her designated agent has given false,
misleading or untrue information of material fact in any record or report
required by this article;
B. The permit holder fails to maintain the alarm system in accordance with
the requirements of this article;
C. The operation of the alarm system by the permit holder has
demonstrated a history of unreliability, as set forth in subsection (c) of
this section; or
D. There have been eight (8) or more false alarms during the preceding 12
(2) A person commits an offense if he operates an alarm system during the period in
which his/her alarm permit has been revoked.
(c) Grounds for non-renewal of an alarm permit.
(1) The alarm system has a history of unreliability and the applicant has failed to
make alterations or corrections to the system to reasonably assure abatement of
false alarms. Any alarm system generating eight (8) or more false alarm
notifications within a 12-month period shall be presumed unreliable; and the
alarm permit shall be revoked or suspended, after the city provides 30 days
written notice to the permit holder, until the permit holder has:
A. Attended an alarm awareness class, as approved by the chief;
B. Provided a certificate of compliance; and
C. Paid a $100.00 reinstatement fee.
(d) A person commits an offense if he/she operates an alarm system during the period in
which his/her alarm permit has not been renewed.
Sec. 4-17 - Reinstatement of a permit.
(a) In the event a person's alarm permit has been revoked, the person may have the permit
reinstated if the person:
(1) Submits an updated application and pays a $100.00 permit reinstatement fee in
accordance with this article;
(2) Attends an alarm awareness class; and
(3) Presents a certificate of compliance
(b) An alarm permit that has been reinstated shall expire on the same date it was originally
set to expire, one year from date the original alarm permit was issued.
Sec. 4-18 - Appeal from administrative sanction or denial or revocation of permit.
(a) The applicant or permit holder may appeal the decision of the chief to revoke a permit or
any fee determination to the city manager by paying an appeal fee of $25.00 and filing
with the city manager a written request for a hearing, setting forth the reasons for the
appeal, within 15 days after receipt of the notice of the administrative decision. The filing
of a request for an appeal hearing with the city manager or his designated representative
will stay the revocation of the permit until the appeal decision. If a request for an appeal
hearing is not made within the 15-day period, the action of the chief is final. Appeal fees
will be returned if the decision of the chief is overturned.
(b) If the chief refused to issue or renew a permit, or revokes a permit, he shall send to the
applicant or permit holder by certified mail, return receipt requested, written notice of his
action and a statement of the right to an appeal.
(c) The city manager shall set a time and place for the hearing which shall be served upon
the applicant or permit holder by certified mail, return receipt requested. The city
manager or his representative shall serve as hearing officer at an appeal hearing and
consider evidence by any interested person. The formal rules of evidence do not apply at
an appeal hearing. All parties to the hearing shall have the right to present evidence and
shall have the right to cross examination. The hearing officer shall make his decision on
the basis of preponderance of the evidence within 15 days after the request for an appeal
hearing is filed. The time for hearing an appeal may be extended by agreement of the
parties. The hearing officer shall affirm, reverse, or modify the action of the chief. The
decision of the hearing officer is final as to administrative remedies with the city.
(d) Notice of the chief's actions shall be presumed to have been properly given and received
if such nature has been sent in writing, certified mail, to the last known mailing address of
the permit holder.
Sec. 4-19 - Notification.
The alarm user shall be notified in writing after each false alarm. The notification shall include:
notice that the alarm user can attend alarm user awareness class to waive one false alarm violation, the
fact that a permit may be revoked or not renewed after the eighth (8) false alarm and a description of the
appeal procedure available to the alarm user.
The alarm user and the alarm installation company or monitoring company will be notified in
writing 30 days before an alarm permit is to be suspended. A notice of alarm permit suspension may be
combined with a false alarm notice. This notice of alarm permit suspension will also include a description
of the appeals procedure available to the alarm user and the alarm installation company or monitoring
Sec. 4-20 - Alarm dispatch records.
(a) The police dispatcher receiving the alarm notification and/or the police officer responding
to a dispatch resulting from a burglary, personal hostage or robbery alarm notification
shall cause to be recorded in the police information systems such information as
necessary to permit the chief to maintain records, including but not limited to the following
(1) Identification of the permit holder;
(2) The alarm permit number
(3) Identification of the alarm site;
(4) Dispatcher received time, dispatch time and arrival time;
(5) Date of occurrence
(6) The disposition of the alarm call; and
(7) The name of the permit holder's representative on premises, if any.
(b) The responding police officer shall prepare and submit the appropriate reports in regard
to any criminal offenses, attempted offenses or other incidents which contributed to the
alarm notification as determined by investigation.
Sec. 4-21 - System performance reviews and consultations.
(a) 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 chief may
require a conference with an alarm permit holder to review circumstances of each false
(b) If the chief determines that an alarm is the result of circumstances within the reasonable
control of the permit holder, and there have been more than eight (8) false alarms, in the
preceding 12 month period, the chief may revoke the alarm permit. The permit holder or
the permit holder's representative may appeal the chief's decision as set out in the appeal
process in section 4-20.
Sec. 4-22 - Violations; penalty.
(a) An alarm installation company, a monitoring company, an alarm permit holder or a
person in control of an alarm system commits an offense if he violates any provision of
(b) Unless otherwise specifically set forth herein, allegation and evidence of culpable mental
state are not required for the proof of an offense of this article.
(c) A person who violates a provision of this article is guilty of a separate offense for each
day or portion of a day during which the violation committed, continued or permitted, and
each offense is punishable by a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500.00).
(d) In addition to prohibiting or requiring certain conduct of individuals, it is the intent of this
article to hold a corporation, partnership or other association criminally responsible for
acts or omissions performed by an agent acting on behalf of the corporation, partnership
or other association, and within the scope of his employment.
Sec. 4-23 - Confidentiality.
In the interest of public safety, subject to the provisions of V.T.C.A., Government Code Ch. 552,
information contained in and gathered through the alarm permit applications, records relating to alarm
dispatch requests and applications for appeals shall be held in confidence by all employees or
representatives of the city and by any third-party administrator or employees of a third-party administrator
with access to such information. This information shall not be subject to public inspection. Public interest
is served by not disclosing said information to the public and clearly outweighs the public interest served
by disclosing said information.
Sec. 4-24 - Government immunity.
The issuance of an alarm permit and/or the provisions set forth in this article are not intended to,
nor do they 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 applying for an alarm permit,
the alarm user acknowledges that law enforcement response may be influenced by factors such as: the
availability of police units, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions
and staffing levels.
Sec. 4-25 - Testing; other violations.
(a) A person commits an offense if, without prior written consent of the chief, the person tests
or demonstrates the alarm system and transmits or causes to be transmitted an
emergency message to the police department.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly or recklessly fails to repair an alarm
permitted under this chapter
(c) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly or recklessly fails to attend the
scene of an alarm activation within the time period set forth herein after actual notice has
been given to the person designated to enter and control such premises.
False Alarms - Residential
1st - 3rd in 365 days
4th - 5th in 365 days
6th - 8th in 365 days
9th or more in 365 days
False Alarms - Commercial
1st - 3rd in 365 days
4th - 5th in 365 days
6th - 8th in 365 days
9th or more in 365 days