South Carolina Legislature


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Session 109 (1991-1992)

H*3494(Rat #0248, Act #0245 of 1991)  General Bill, By Wilkins, M.O. Alexander, 
R.A. Barber, J.M. Baxley, Cato, H.H. Clyborne, Haskins, M.F. Jaskwhich, 
S.G. Manly, J.G. Mattos, Vaughn, S.S. Wofford and Young-Brickell
 A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Chapter 47
 to Title 23 so as to establish a three digit public safety emergency phone
 number, 911, to authorize the governing authorities of the political
 subdivisions of the State to create 911 public safety communications centers
 for the purpose of establishing a local emergency telephone service, to permit
 funding for the centers, including provisions for levying a telephone service
 charge, and for related purposes.

   02/12/91  House  Introduced and read first time HJ-8
   02/12/91  House  Referred to Committee on Medical, Military,
                     Public and Municipal Affairs HJ-8
   04/17/91  House  Committee report: Favorable with amendment
                     Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs HJ-21
   05/01/91  House  Debate interrupted HJ-43
   05/02/91  House  Amended HJ-22
   05/02/91  House  Read second time HJ-22
   05/02/91  House  Unanimous consent for third reading on next
                     legislative day HJ-22
   05/03/91  House  Read third time and sent to Senate HJ-1
   05/07/91  Senate Introduced and read first time SJ-26
   05/07/91  Senate Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and
                     Industry SJ-26
   06/05/91  Senate Committee report: Favorable with amendment Labor,
                     Commerce and Industry SJ-42
   06/05/91  Senate Amended SJ-42
   06/05/91  Senate Read second time
   06/05/91  Senate Unanimous consent for third reading on next
                     legislative day SJ-42
   06/06/91  Senate Read third time and returned to House with
                     amendments SJ-29
   06/06/91  House  Concurred in Senate amendment and enrolled HJ-90
   09/23/91         Ratified R 248
   10/01/91         Signed By Governor
   10/01/91         Effective date 10/01/91
   10/01/91         Act No. 245
   10/03/91         Copies available

(A245, R248, H3494)


Whereas, the General Assembly finds that:

(1) It is in the public interest to shorten the time and simplify the method required for a resident to request and receive emergency aid. A single, primary three digit emergency number through which fire, rescue, disaster, and emergency services, emergency medical, and law enforcement services may be obtained quickly and efficiently will provide a significant contribution to response by simplifying notification of these emergency responders. A simplified means of procuring these emergency services will result in saving of life, a reduction in the destruction of property, quicker apprehension of criminals, and ultimately the saving of monies.

(2) Establishment of a uniform emergency telephone number is a matter of concern to all citizens. The emergency number 911 has been made available throughout the United States.

(3) It is necessary to:

(a) establish the emergency number 911 as the primary emergency telephone number for use in participating political subdivisions of the State;

(b) authorize each county or municipality to direct establishment and operation of a 911 system in its political subdivision to designate the location of the center and agency to operate the center;

(c) encourage the political subdivisions to implement 911 public safety communications centers;

(d) provide a method of funding which will allow implementation, operation, and maintenance of 911. Now, therefore,

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

911 safety emergency phone number established

SECTION 1. Title 23 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:


Public Safety Communications Center

Section 23-47-10. Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

(1) `911 charge' means a fee to the local government for the 911 service start-up equipment costs, subscriber notification costs, addressing costs, billing costs, and nonrecurring and recurring installation, maintenance service, and network charges of a service supplier providing 911 service as provided in this chapter.

(2) `911 system' or `911 service' means an emergency telephone system that provides the user of the public telephone system with the ability to reach a public safety answering point by dialing the digits 911. The term 911 system or service also includes `enhanced 911 service', which means an emergency telephone system that provides the user of the public telephone system with 911 service, and in addition, directs 911 calls to appropriate public safety answering points by selective routing based on the geographical location from which the call originated and provides the capability for automatic number identification and automatic location identification features.

(3) `Addressing' means the assigning of a numerical address and street name (the name may be numerical) to each location within a local government's geographical area necessary to provide public safety service as determined by the local government. This address replaces any route and box number currently in place in the `911' data base and facilitates quicker response by public safety agencies.

(4) `Automatic location identification' means an enhanced 911 service capability that enables the automatic display of the address.

(5) `Automatic number identification' means an enhanced 911 service capability that enables the automatic display of the telephone number used to place a 911 call.

(6) `Basic 911 system' means a 911 system or 911 service without enhancement.

(7) `911 plan' means a plan for the 911 system, enhanced 911 system, or any amendment to the plan developed by the county or municipality.

(8) `Customer' means the local government subscribing to 911 service from a service supplier.

(9) `Enhanced 911 network features' means selective routing, automatic number identification, and location identification.

(10) `Enhancement' means any addition to a 911 system such as automatic number identification, selective routing of calls, or other future technological advancements, as determined by the Public Service Commission.

(11) `Exchange access facility' means the access from a particular telephone subscriber's premises to the telephone system of a service supplier. Exchange access facilities include service supplier provided access lines, PBX trunks, and Centrex network access registers, all as defined by the South Carolina Public Service Commission. Exchange access facilities do not include service supplier owned and operated telephone pay station lines, or wide area telecommunications service (wats), foreign exchange (fx), or incoming lines.

(12) `Local government' means any city, county, or political subdivision of the State.

(13) `Mapping' means the development of a computerized geographical display system of roads and structures where emergency response may be required.

(14) `Public safety agent' means a functional agency which provides fire fighting, law enforcement, medical, or other emergency services.

(15) `Public safety answering point' (PSAP) means a communications facility operated on a twenty-four hour basis which first receives 911 calls from persons in a 911 service area and which may directly dispatch public safety services or extend, transfer, or relay 911 calls to appropriate public safety agencies. A PSAP may be designated to primary or secondary exchange service, referring to the order in which calls are directed for answering.

(16) `Regional systems' means the formation of two or more local governments or multi-jurisdictional systems for the purpose of jointly forming and funding 911 systems.

(17) `Service supplier' means a person, company, or corporation, public or private, providing local exchange telephone service and subject to regulation by the South Carolina Public Service Commission.

(18) `Tariff rate' means the recurring or nonrecurring rates billed by the service supplier as stated in the service supplier's tariff and approved by the Public Service Commission which represents the service supplier's recurring charges for exchange access facilities, exclusive of all taxes, fees, licenses, or similar charges.

(19) `Telephone subscriber' or `subscriber' means a person or entity to whom exchange telephone service, either residential or commercial, is provided and in return for which the person or entity is billed on a monthly basis. When the same person, business, or organization has several telephone access lines, each exchange access facility constitutes a separate subscription.

Section 23-47-20. Systems requirements.

(A) Service available through a 911 system includes law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services. Other emergency and emergency personnel services may be incorporated into the 911 system at the discretion of the local government being served by the system. Public safety agencies within a local government 911 system, in all cases, must be notified by the PSAP of a request for service in their area. Written guidelines must be established to govern the assignment of calls for assistance to the appropriate public safety agency. There must be written agreements among state, county, and local public safety agencies with concurrent jurisdiction for a clear understanding of which specific calls for assistance will be referred to individual public safety agencies.

(B) (1) A 911 system must include all of the territory of the local government, either county, municipality, or multi-jurisdictional government. A 911 system may be a basic or enhanced 911 system.

(2) Public safety agencies that provide emergency service within the territory of a 911 system shall participate in the countywide system. Each PSAP must be operated twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

(C) As a minimum, the 911 systems implemented in South Carolina must include:

( 1) a minimum of two lines from each serving telephone central office to the enhanced 911 tandem (controlling central office) and a minimum of two lines from the enhanced 911 tandem to the PSAP. The grade of service must have sufficient lines to ensure no more than one busy signal per one hundred calls;

( 2) equipment to connect the PSAP to all law enforcement, fire protection, and emergency medical or rescue agencies, or both, within the boundaries of the system;

( 3) first priority to answering 911 calls;

( 4) electronic recording of all 911 calls and retained for a minimum of sixty days;

( 5) immediate playback capability of all 911 calls;

( 6) equipment connected by dedicated telephone lines to all adjacent PSAP's where there is a telephone exchange not covered by selective routing;

( 7) adequate physical security to minimize the possibility of intentional disruption of the operation. This includes equipment safeguards;

( 8) standby emergency power to operate the PSAP during power failures;

( 9) written operational procedures;

(10) a minimum of one telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD) available in each PSAP;

(11) capability to answer eighty percent of calls within ten seconds;

(12) coin free dialing. Pay or coin telephones classified as such by a class of service code will be identified on the automatic location identification display in enhanced 911 systems;

(13) contingency plans for rerouting or relocating the PSAP in the event of a disaster or equipment failures;

(14) capabilities to have cellular phones routed to 911;

(15) telecommunication operators or dispatchers trained and certified by the Law Enforcement Training Council (South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy). The council shall promulgate regulations to provide for this training. Expense of the training must be paid by the local government by which that person is employed and the council is authorized to establish and collect a fee for this training;

(16) all 911 lines have both audio and light indicators on incoming calls;

(17) a public safety agency whose services are available on the 911 system must maintain a separate secondary backup number for emergency calls and a separate number for nonemergency telephone calls;

(18) the primary published emergency number will be 911. The PSAP must have additional local telephone exchange service in addition to the 911 service. This nonemergency telephone number should be published directly below the `emergency dial 911' listing;

(19) 911 is furnished for emergency reporting only. Nonemergency calls, whether by the general public or agency employees, should not be made to the 911 system;

(20) a designated person or 911 office staffed by a sufficient number of personnel to maintain data bases;

(21) an initial and continual plan for public education which must include the following:

(a) to make the public aware 911 is available;

(b) to have the majority of emergency calls received on 911 rather than the seven-digit emergency number;

(c) to make the public aware of the definition of an emergency;

(d) to make the public aware of what is a nonemergency.

(D) Enhanced 911 shall incorporate the following features:

(1) automatic location identification (ALI) - automatically displays the addresses of the calling telephone during the course of the emergency call at the PSAP;

(2) automatic number identification (ANI) - automatically displays the number of the caller's telephone at the PSAP;

(3) central office identification - when a PSAP serves more than one central office, dedicated lines or trunks are used to identify each central office;

(4) called party hold - enables the PSAP to control the connection for confirmation and tracing of the call;

(5) distinct tone - tone generated by equipment which alerts the PSAP personnel that calling party has disconnected;

(6) selective routing - will automatically route a predetermined geographical area to a PSAP serving that area regardless of municipal and wire center boundary alignments;

(7) all enhanced 911 systems must be configured so as to disallow subsequent search of the address data base.

Section 23-47-30. System plan.

(A) A local government which seeks funding for a 911 system shall submit to the Division of Information Resource Management (DIRM), South Carolina Budget and Control Board, a 911 system plan for review and approval. The plan shall conform to the planning guidelines set forth in this chapter, guidelines promulgated by DIRM, and meet the requirements of current tariffs applicable to the 911 system. The plan must include:

(1) the type of 911 system desired for the local government including the type of equipment to be used and the associated costs;

(2) the location of the PSAP and the county or municipality agency or organization responsible for operating the PSAP;

(3) a listing of those public safety agencies whose services will be available through the 911 system;

(4) the personnel determined necessary to operate and maintain the 911 system;

(5) educational efforts the local government will undertake to acquaint the general public with the availability and proper use of the 911 system.

(B) Those local governments which already have a 911 system are encouraged to conform to the standards set forth in this section.

Section 23-47-40. System funding.

(A) The local government is authorized to adopt an ordinance to impose a monthly 911 charge upon each local exchange access facility subscribed to by telephone subscribers whose local exchange access lines are in the area served or which would be served by the 911 service. The 911 charge must be uniform and may not vary according to the type of local exchange access facility used.

The ordinance must be adopted in the same fashion as ordinances that levy taxes under South Carolina law. No collection of charges may be commenced before adoption of the ordinance.

(B) Funding must be used only to pay for the following enumerated items:

(1) the lease, purchase, lease-purchase, or maintenance of emergency telephone equipment, including necessary recording equipment, computer hardware, software, and data base provisioning, addressing, mapping, and nonrecurring costs of establishing a 911 system;

(2) the rates associated with the service supplier's 911 service and other suppliers' recurring charges;

(3) the cost of establishing and maintaining a county 911 office or maintaining as currently staffed a county 911 office for the purpose of operating and maintaining the data base of the 911 system. Costs are limited to salaries and compensations and those items necessary in the operation of the 911 office and normal operating costs;

(4) items enumerated may be subscriber-billed for a period not to exceed thirty months before activation of the 911 service;

(5) items necessary to meet the standards outlined in this chapter, specifically in Section 23-47-20(C);

(6) enhancements either currently available or available in the future offered by service suppliers and approved by the Public Service Commission;

(7) a local government may contract to implement and establish a 911 system as set forth in this chapter.

(C) Funding must not be used for:

(1) purchasing or leasing of real estate, cosmetic or remodeling of communications centers, except those building modifications necessary to maintain the security and environmental integrity of the PSAP;

(2) hiring or compensating dispatchers or call takers other than initial and in-service training;

(3) mobile communications vehicles, fire engines, law enforcement vehicles, ambulances, or other emergency vehicles, or other vehicles;

(4) consultants or consultant fees for studies of implementation;

(5) aerial photography.

(D) A local government may contract with a service supplier for any term negotiated by the service supplier and the local government and may make payments through subscriber billing to provide any payments required by the contract.

Section 23-47-50. Subscriber billing.

(A) The maximum 911 charge that a subscriber may be billed for an individual local exchange access facility must be in accordance with the following scale:

Tier I - 1,000 to 40,999 access lines - $1.50 for start-up costs, $1.00 for on-going costs;

Tier II - 41,000 to 99,999 access lines - $1.00 for start-up costs, $.60 for on-going costs;

Tier III - more than 100,000 access lines - $.75 for start-up costs, $.50 for on-going costs.

Start-up includes a combination of recurring and nonrecurring costs and up to a maximum of fifty local exchange lines an account.

(B) Every local telephone subscriber served by the 911 system is liable for the 911 charge imposed. A service supplier has no obligation to take any legal action to enforce the collection of the 911 charges for which a subscriber is billed. However, a collection action may be initiated by the local government that imposed the charges. Reasonable costs and attorney's fees associated with that collection action may be awarded to the local government collecting the 911 charges.

(C) The local government subscribing to 911 service is ultimately responsible to the service supplier for all 911 installation, service, equipment, operation, and maintenance charges owed to the service supplier. Upon request by the local government, the service supplier shall provide a list of amounts uncollected along with the names and addresses of telephone subscribers who have identified themselves as refusing to pay the 911 charges. Taxes due on a 911 system service provided by the service supplier must be billed to the local government subscribing to the service. State and local taxes do not apply to the 911 charge billed to the telephone subscriber.

(D) Service suppliers that collect 911 charges on behalf of the local government are entitled to retain two percent of the gross 911 charges remitted to the local government as an administrative fee. The service supplier shall remit the remainder of charges collected during the month to the fiscal offices of the local government. The 911 charges collected by the service supplier must be remitted to the local government within forty-five days of the end of the month during which such charges were collected and must be deposited by and accounted for by the local government in a separate restricted fund known as the `emergency telephone system fund' maintained by the local government. The local government may invest the money in the fund in the same manner that other monies of the local government are invested and income earned from the investment must be deposited into the fund. Monies from this fund are totally restricted to use in the 911 system.

(E) The `emergency telephone system' fund must be included in the annual audit of the local government in accordance with guidelines issued by the state auditor's office. A report of the audit must be forwarded to the state auditor within sixty days of its completion and a copy sent to DIRM.

(F) Fees collected by the service supplier pursuant to this section are not subject to any tax, fee, or assessment, nor are they considered revenue of the service supplier.

Section 23-47-60. Addressing.

(A) Local government, upon approval for implementation of a 911 system, shall standardize addressing within its area according to service supplier procedures. Enhanced 911 must not be placed in service until eighty-five percent of the residents have been provided with a standardized address by the local government. Those residents who do not have a standardized address provided by the local government will be placed in the service supplier's error file. Upon activation by enhanced 911 for the public, the service supplier's error file rate must not exceed one percent.

(B) Addressing costs are limited solely to establishing and maintaining addressing for a 911 system.

(C) Addressing must meet the following criteria:

(1) New street names assigned must not duplicate or be similar to an existing street name within the local government's geographical area.

(2) Existing duplicate street names must be changed as necessary by the local government to ensure efficiency of the emergency response system.

(3) Each house, building, or other occupied structure must be assigned a separate number. A number or alphabetical letter must be assigned for each separate occupant within a building or other occupied structure. Examples include apartments, companies, etc.

(4) Written notification of the proper address of each house, building, or structure must be given to its owner, occupant, or agent in all instances where a new number has been assigned. Existing streets and addresses must receive verification of the correct address.

(D) (1) The owner, occupant, or agent of each house, building, or other structure assigned a number under a uniform numbering system shall place or cause to be placed the number on the house, building, or other structure within twenty-one days after receiving notification of the proper number assignment.

(2) Costs and installation of the number must be paid for by the property owner or occupant. Residential numbers must not be less than three inches in height. Business numbers must not be less than four inches in height. All numbers must be made of a durable, clearly visible material and must contrast with the color of the house, building, or other structure.

(3) Numbers must be conspicuously placed immediately above, on, or at the side of the appropriate door so that the number is visible clearly from the street. In cases where the building is situated more than fifty feet from the street or road, the building number also must be placed near the walk, driveway, or common entrance to the building, or upon the mailbox, gatepost, fence, or other appropriate place so as to clearly be visible from the street or road.

(4) Residents, businesses, owners, or others who fail to comply with this subsection are guilty of a misdemeanor, triable in magistrate's court, and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days. Each day in violation constitutes a separate offense.

(E) (1) Mapping is extremely essential to an effective emergency response system and a requirement for addressing. Local government, through subscriber billing, may cause nonrecurring costs to be applied for hardware and software for purchasing and operating computerized mapping within the county 911 system in an amount not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars. This nonrecurring cost is a part and may not exceed the maximum amounts that may be billed to an individual exchange line. Local governments with existing budgeted or planned computerized mapping are not eligible to bill subscribers for these type services.

(2) Local governments shall coordinate addressing and mapping with the telephone company, United States Postal Service, appropriate state agencies, and public utility companies.

(3) The 911 system must not be implemented by the service supplier until the local government notifies it that all requirements mandated by this section are fulfilled.

Section 23-47-70. Liability.

(A) A local government or public safety agency, as defined in Section 23-47-10, or state government entity, its officers, agents, or employees, together with any person following their instructions in rendering services, are not liable for civil damages as a result of an act or omission under this chapter, including, but not limited to, developing, adopting, operating, or implementing a plan or system pursuant to the South Carolina Tort Claims Act, Section 15-78-60(5) or 15-78-60(19).

(B) Liability concerning all service suppliers as defined in this chapter must be governed by the filed and approved tariffs of the South Carolina Public Service Commission, including, but not limited to, those general subscriber service tariffs concerning emergency reporting services.

Section 23-47-80. Penalties.

It is unlawful for a person anonymously or otherwise to:

(1) use any words or language of a profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious, or indecent nature on an emergency 911 number with the intent to intimidate or harass a dispatcher;

(2) telephone the emergency 911 number, whether or not conversation ensues for the purpose of annoying or harassing the dispatcher or interfering with or disrupting emergency 911 service;

(3) make a telephone call to a 911 dispatcher and intentionally fail to hang up or disengage the connection for the purpose of interfering with or disrupting emergency service;

(4) telephone the emergency 911 number and intentionally make a false report.

A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than six months or fined not more than two hundred dollars, or both."

Analysis lines not part of code

SECTION 2. Analysis lines following each code section in this bill are for informational purposes only and are not part of the Code itself.

Time effective

SECTION 3. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.

Approved the 1st day of October, 1991.

Legislative Services Agency
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