Algonquin to take over fire alarm monitoring system ownership

Published: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 5:10 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 11:26 p.m. CDT

ALGONQUIN – Businesses that pay $80 a month to have wireless fire alarm monitoring through the Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District are set to have the service managed by the village.

The fire district is transferring ownership of the alarm-monitoring system to the village in response to a court ruling from earlier this summer involving another fire district.

Earlier this summer, a federal appeals court in a case involving ADT Security Systems and the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District found that the fire district did not have the statutory authority to own the signaling equipment or to assess fees to maintain the system.

However, there is a prior court decision that suggests it’s lawful for non-home rule municipalities to enforce and charge for fire alarm monitoring systems, according to a memo written by Village Manager Tim Schloneger.

Algonquin has an ordinance requiring all commercial properties in the village to make a direct connection to the wireless monitoring system.

“There is not a case directly on point upholding the validity of a municipality mandating a direct connection to a municipal system and we can only assume that the private alarm companies, now coming off a win against fire districts, may pursue similar municipal systems,” Schloneger wrote.

“There is more of an argument that can be made supporting a municipal system as it falls within not only home rule powers, but also statutory and health, safety welfare powers,” he added.

The district charges $80 a month for fire alarm monitoring, Fire Chief Patrick Mullen said.

Schloneger said the only change for fire alarm customers is that bills will now come from the village rather than the fire district. Costs should stay the same.

The fire district maintains and operates 441 radio fire alarm transmitters, according to Mullen.

Of those, 279 are within Algonquin. The rest are businesses and multifamily properties that voluntarily joined the network in Barrington Hills, Cary, Huntley and Lake in the Hills.

Pending approval from the fire district board, which is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the matter, the official transfer is set to take place Dec. 1, Assistant to the Village Manager Mike Kumbera said.

Kumbera added the village will use revenues from fire alarm monitoring as an enterprise fund, where fees will be set at a level to offset the cost of operating the system, which includes equipment purchases and replacement.

As part of the switchover, SEECOM will continue to perform the monitoring and dispatching services on the alarms.

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