Town of North Reading, MA
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of North Reading as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 10-3-1988 OTM by Art. 7, approved 11-7-1988]
The following rules and regulations shall apply to the installation, operation, and maintenance of fire and/or medical aid alarm systems.
Fire and/or medical aid alarm systems shall include systems connected to fire headquarters by the municipal fire alarm circuit, direct wire, or on a telephone dial-up basis and systems which use exterior audible signals at the alarm location.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 148, Sections 26A to 26H require the installation of alarm systems in certain buildings and place responsibility for the enforcement of these provisions with the Fire Chief. This by-law is adopted to establish uniform rules and regulations and to implement a schedule of fees for the installation, operation, and maintenance of said alarm systems.
A. 
Any current or future alarm user may contract with an alarm company of their choice for the purchase, lease, installation, and servicing of an alarm system on their premises.
B. 
No alarm system or equipment shall be connected to the Fire Department Dispatch Center without prior written approval of the Fire Chief. This approval requirement shall include municipal connection, direct wire, and dial-up services.
C. 
The only types of systems which will be allowed to connect to the Fire Department Dispatch Center will be systems which utilize telephone dialers equipped with digital transmitters or connection via the municipal fire alarm circuits, or such other types deemed compatible with the Fire Department Dispatch Center alarm console.
(1) 
Existing telephone dialers using voice-type tape recorders, which are not compatible with the alarm console, may continue to use the special alarm number set up only for this purpose for a period not exceeding one (1) year from the effective date of this by-law. No equipment as described in this Subsection C(1) shall use the primary fire reporting telephone number. New applicants for voice-type tape systems will not be approved.
D. 
Actual connection to the Fire Department's alarm console will be made by the Town's designated alarm contractor or Fire Alarm Division personnel. Alarm users will be required to pay the alarm contractor for this service as set forth in a contract between the contractor and the alarm user.
E. 
Fire alarm users shall, on or before July 1st of each year, remit to the Town Treasurer a connection fee of three hundred dollars ($300) for each master box connection to the North Reading Fire Department receiving equipment.
[Added 10-1-1990 OTM by Art. 12, approved 12-18-1990; amended 4-7-2003 ATM by Art. 8, approved 4-25-2003]
F. 
The Town accepts no liability whatsoever for conditions which prevent proper reception of signals from the user's premises.
A. 
Each alarm user shall submit to the Fire Chief the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of three (3) persons who can be reached at any time, day or night, who are authorized to gain access to the protected premises for the purposes of silencing and resetting the alarm system. It shall be the alarm user's responsibility to keep this information up-to-date. Each control panel shall have located inside its door the above information and also the name of the company and phone numbers of the company which currently services the system.
B. 
Written instructions for resetting the control panel shall be clearly visible on the control panel. Permission to attempt a system reset must be on file with the Fire Department if user wishes the Fire Department to reset control unit. If after three (3) attempts a system will not reset the zone or if necessary, the system shall be left not restored. In this event attempts shall be made to contact the parties from data given by the user. The Town assumes no liability for the inability to contact listed persons.
C. 
This regulation shall apply to all alarm systems, i.e., those connected to the Fire Department Dispatch Center and those equipped with exterior audible signal devices.
(1) 
Any building other than a residential building of less than six (6) units which has a fire alarm system or other fire protection system shall provide a secure key box installed in a location accessible to the Fire Department in case of emergency. This key box shall contain keys to fire alarm control panels and other keys necessary to operate or service fire protection systems. The key box shall be a type approved by the Chief of the Fire Department and shall be located and installed as approved by the Chief.
(2) 
All premises shall have their legal street number clearly visible as per existing Town by-law prior to connection of alarm to the Fire Department Dispatch Center.
D. 
All alarm users must notify the Dispatch Center in advance of any testing of equipment. Failure to do so may constitute a false alarm and therefore be subject to fee assessment.
E. 
Any direct wire user who has multiple purpose alarms i.e., fire or medical aid or any combination thereof, must provide for individual multiple alarm connections to the Fire Department Dispatch Center as required.
F. 
False alarms.
(1) 
Alarm systems which generate false alarms in any twelve (12) month period shall be subject to assessment as follows: (12 month period is a fiscal year - July 1 to June 30)
Fire Alarm and Emergency Medical Systems
Step 1
1 thru 3
None
Step 2
4 thru 5
$150 each
Step 3
6 or more
$300 each
(2) 
(2) Definition of false alarm - The activation of an alarm system due to mechanical failure, malfunctioning equipment, improper installation, or negligence of the user of the alarm system or his employees or agents. Excluded from this definition are activations of alarm systems caused by utility company power outages, communication receiving equipment problems at Fire Headquarters, or other acts of nature beyond the control of the alarm user. False alarms shall include, but not be limited to, the following situations:
(a) 
The continued activations of alarms resulting from any condition where no effective effort is made to correct the condition;
(b) 
Detection devices reacting to a condition such as smoke, steam, etc., where such occurrences are continuous with no corrective action taken; and
(c) 
Detection devices reacting to a condition such as dirt, dust, or any other debris or material resulting from the failure of the owner to properly maintain and clean the system.
(3) 
The obligations of owners for the proper maintenance of their systems shall be as set forth in 527 CMR 24.08, which is incorporated herein by reference.
G. 
Alarm users who cannot produce a valid service agreement for the protected property shall pay an additional fifty ($50) dollars fee per step. It is the intent of this section to have systems maintained on a regular basis annually.
(1) 
False alarms caused by faulty telephone service, electrical storms, or power outages will be excluded from assessment. False alarms received during the first thirty (30) days of connection shall be discounted, provided no malicious intent has occurred and every attempt has been made to rectify new installation defects.
(2) 
Determination that a false alarm has been transmitted will be the responsibility of the Fire Chief or his duly appointed duty officer. Malicious false alarms shall be excluded, provided the alarm systems owner actively discourages these types of alarms through education and installation of deterrent devices specifically designed for these purposes as requested by the Fire Chief.
(3) 
Payments of assessment will be to the Town Treasurer.
(4) 
Upon failure of an alarm user to pay two (2) consecutive fees assessed within sixty (60) days of the assessment, the Fire Chief shall order the alarm user to discontinue the use of the alarm system for not more than six (6) months. Recovery of funds through court proceedings.
(5) 
Town, county, and state agencies are exempt from the provisions of the assessment schedule.
[Amended 10-2-1989 ATM by Art. 9, approved 12-7-1989]
The following acts and omissions shall constitute a violation of these regulations and shall be punishable as follows: by a fine of not less than fifty ($50) dollars for the first offense, one hundred ($100) dollars for the second offense, and two hundred ($200) dollars for the third and subsequent offenses.
A. 
Failure to follow a written order issued by the Fire Chief to disconnect a fire alarm system from the municipal box or to disable telephone dialer arranged to dial the digital alarm console or the special alarm telephone numbers.
B. 
Provision after the effective date of these regulations of a telephone dialing device arranged to dial a Fire Department Dispatch Center number.
C. 
Failure to disconnect, after notification, an unauthorized telephone dialing device arranged to dial the Fire Dispatch Center number.
D. 
Failure to pay two (2) or more consecutive fees assessed under § 11-5F of these regulations within sixty (60) days from the date of the second assessment.
E. 
Failure to comply with the requirements set forth in §§ 11-4 and 11-5 of these regulations.
F. 
Continued transmission of false alarms caused by the user's negligence or system malfunctions on the user premises which is under the user's control and where no effective effort is made to correct the condition.
[Amended 6-4-2018 ATM by Art. 28, approved 9-21-2018]
An alarm user wishing to appeal a decision of the Fire Chief pursuant to § 11-5F of these regulations may, within fifteen (15) calendar days of the fee assessment, request in writing a hearing with the Select Board.
[Adopted 4-24-1989 ATM by Art. 25, approved 6-20-1989]
The following rules and regulations shall apply to the installation, operation, and maintenance of alarm systems calling for a Police Department response.
It has been determined that the number of false alarms being made to the Police Department hinders the efficiency of said Department, lowers the morale of Department personnel, constitutes a danger to the general public in the streets during responses to false alarms, and jeopardizes the response of volunteers, and that the adoption of this by-law will reduce the number of false alarms and promote the responsible use of alarm devices within the Town of North Reading.
For the purposes of these rules and regulations, the words and phrases used herein shall have the following meaning except in those instances where the context clearly indicates a different meaning. The word "shall" is always mandatory and not merely directory.
A. 
Any device which, when activated by a criminal act, fire, or other emergency calling for Police Department response:
(1) 
Transmits a signal to Police Headquarters;
(2) 
Transmits a signal to a person who relays the information to Police Headquarters; or
(3) 
Produces an audible or visible signal to which the Police Department is expected to respond.
B. 
Excluded from this definition and the scope of this by-law are devices which are designated to alert or signal only employees within the premises in which the device is installed.
ALARM USER
The term alarm user or user means any person on whose premises the alarm system is maintained within the Town except for alarm systems on motor vehicles or proprietary systems. Excluded from this definition and from the coverage of this section are central station personnel and persons who use alarm devices to alert or signal persons within the premises in which the alarm device is located of an attempted unauthorized intrusion or holdup attempt. If such a system, however, employs an audible signal emitting sounds or a flashing light or a beacon designed to signal persons outside the premises, such system shall be within the definition of alarm device as that term is used in this section and shall be subject to this by-law.
AUTOMATIC DIALING DEVICE
The term automatic dialing device refers to an alarm system which automatically sends over regular telephone lines, by direct connection or otherwise, a prerecorded voice message or coded signal indicating the existence of the emergency situation that the alarm system is designed to detect.
CENTRAL STATION
The term central station means an office to which remote alarm and supervisory signaling devices are connected, where operators supervise circuits, or where guards are maintained continuously to investigate signals.
CHIEF OF POLICE
The term Chief of Police means the Chief of Police of the Town of North Reading or his designated representative.
COMMUNICATIONS CONSOLE
The term communications console means the instrumentation on an alarm console at the receiving terminal of a signal line which, through either visual or audible signals, indicates activation of an alarm system at a particular location or which indicates line trouble.
DIRECT CONNECT
The term direct connect means an alarm system which has the capability of transmitting system signals to and receiving them at the North Reading Police Department.
DISTURBANCE OF THE PEACE
Disturbance of the peace shall mean any interruption of the peace, quiet, and good order of a neighborhood or community, particularly by unnecessary and distracting noises.
A. 
The term false alarm means:
(1) 
The activation of an alarm system through mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation, or negligence of the user of an alarm system or of his employees or agents;
(2) 
Any signal or oral communication transmitted to the Police Department requesting or requiring or resulting in a response on the part of the Police Department when, in fact, there has been no unauthorized intrusion or attempted unauthorized intrusion into a premises and no robbery or attempted robbery or burglary or attempted burglary at a premises.
B. 
Excluded from this definition are activations of alarm systems caused by utility company power outages, communications console problems, electrical storms, or other acts of nature beyond the control of the alarm user.
INTERCONNECT
The term interconnect means to connect an alarm system to a regular telephone line, either directly or through a mechanical device that utilizes a standard telephone, for the purpose of using the telephone line to transmit an emergency message upon the activation of the alarm system.
POLICE or POLICE DEPARTMENT
The terms police or Police Department shall mean the Town of North Reading Police Department or any authorized agent thereof.
A. 
The Chief of Police may promulgate such rules as may be necessary for the implementation of this by-law.
B. 
Alarms signaling the presence of medical emergencies may, with the prior written approval of the Chief of Police, be connected to the alarm console or received over the special telephone lines provided by the alarm console contractor.
C. 
Fire and/or smoke alarm systems, after sending the initial call directly to the fire station, may, with the prior written approval of the Chief of Police, send a backup call to the Police Station over the special telephone lines provided by the alarm console contractor.
A. 
Alarm systems may be connected to the communications console in the Police Department in compliance with the following:
(1) 
Prospective alarm users who want to connect an alarm system to the North Reading Station shall apply in writing to the Chief of Police for such permission.
(2) 
At such times as these rules and regulations become effective, alarm users who wish to continue the connection of their alarm systems to the North Reading Police Station shall apply in writing to the Police Department for such permission within three (3) months after such effective date.
(3) 
New owners or occupants of premises having alarm systems connected to the North Reading Police Station and who wish to continue the connection shall apply in writing to the Police Department for such permission within one (1) month of taking ownership or occupancy.
(4) 
The Chief of Police may deny an application to connect an alarm system to the North Reading Police Station for the following reasons:
(a) 
The system or user fails to comply with these rules and regulations; and
(b) 
Other reasonable cause affecting adversely the functioning of the total system or its parts.
(5) 
The following information shall be provided to the Police Department regarding each alarm system connected to the Police Station:
(a) 
Name, address, and telephone number of the applicant alarm user;
(b) 
Type of alarm system;
(c) 
Names, addresses, and telephone numbers (home and business) of at least three (3) persons who can be reached any time, day or night, and who are able to enter the premises where the alarm is located, either to turn off the alarm or reset it; and
(d) 
Name, address, and telephone number of the installing alarm company.
(6) 
Alarm systems may be connected to the North Reading Police Station in one of the following ways:
(a) 
Directly to the privately owned console or signal panel; and
(b) 
Indirectly by use of an automatic dialing device connected to the special telephone lines provided by the alarm console contractor for this purpose.
B. 
The alarm user or his alarm company representative must arrange for the necessary tie in arrangements directly with the contractor who is responsible for the privately owned console and special telephone lines in the Police Station.
C. 
All fees and charges related to services rendered to users by alarm companies or the police console contractor shall be set forth in the form of a written agreement between the alarm user and the parties providing the service. All such fees and charges shall be without cost to the Town of North Reading.
D. 
Any alarm user may contract with any alarm company of his or her choice for the sale, installation, and/or servicing of the alarm system to be installed on his or her premises.
E. 
No alarm system designed to transmit emergency messages directly to the Police Department shall be worked on, tested, or demonstrated without obtaining the permission of the Chief of Police. An unauthorized test constitutes a false alarm.
(1) 
Any repair or test of private alarm systems that requires over twenty minutes to complete will require an employee of the company performing the repair or test to be in the North Reading Police Station to reset the alarm until such time as the alarm is repaired or disconnected.
F. 
Tests of any system may be conducted with the express permission of the Chief of Police or his designated representative having first been applied for and received.
G. 
The provisions of this by-law concerning false alarms shall apply to all alarm users or persons having direct connect systems, except municipal or other governmental agencies.
A. 
No automatic dialing devices shall be connected to the Police Department telephone lines after the effective date of this by-law.
B. 
Within three (3) months of the effective date of this by-law all automatic dialing devices now interconnected to any Police Department telephone lines shall be disconnected therefrom. The user of each such device shall be responsible for having the device disconnected upon notification by the Chief of Police.
A. 
Persons authorized to respond to alarms; required equipment; complaints.
(1) 
Every alarm user shall submit to the Chief of Police the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of at least three (3) other persons who can be reached at any time, day or night, and who are authorized to respond to an emergency signal transmitted by an alarm system, and who can open the premises wherein the system is installed.
(2) 
All new or upgraded alarm systems shall be equipped with a device which will give at least a ten-second audible signal prior to alarm system activation in order to warn the alarm user of an open alarm circuit.
(3) 
Within six (6) months from the effective date of these rules and regulations, all alarm systems which use an audible horn or bell shall be equipped with a device which will shut off such horn or bell ten (10) minutes after activation of the alarm system.
(4) 
All alarm systems installed after the effective date of these rules and regulations which use an audible horn or bell shall be equipped with a device that will shut off such horn or bell within ten (10) minutes after activation of the alarm system.
(5) 
Any alarm system emitting a continuous uninterrupted signal for more than thirty (30) minutes which cannot be shut off or otherwise curtailed due to the absence or unavailability of the alarm user or those persons designated by him under Subsection A(1) of this section and which interrupts the peace, comfort, or repose of a neighborhood or of inhabitants of the area where the alarm system is located shall constitute a disturbance of the peace. Upon receiving complaints regarding such a continuous and uninterrupted signal, the Chief of Police shall endeavor to contact the alarm user, or members of the alarm user's family, or those persons designated by the alarm user under Subsection A(1) of this section in an effort to abate the disturbance. The Chief of Police shall cause to be recorded the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all complainants, and the time and date each complaint was made.
B. 
Action to abate disturbance; hearing.
(1) 
In the event that the Chief of Police is unable to contact the alarm user or members of the alarm user's family or those persons designated by the alarm user under Subsection A(1) of this section or if the aforesaid persons cannot or will not curtail the audible signal being emitted by the alarm system and if the Chief of Police is otherwise unable to abate the disturbance, he may direct a police officer or a qualified alarm technician to enter upon the property outside the home or building in which the alarm system is located and take any reasonable action necessary to abate the disturbance.
(2) 
If entry upon property outside the home or building in which the alarm system is located is made in accordance with this section, the person entering upon such property:
(a) 
Shall not conduct, engage in, or undertake any search, seizure, inspection, or investigation while he or she is upon the property;
(b) 
Shall not cause any unnecessary damage to the alarm system or to any part of the home or building;
(c) 
Shall leave the property immediately after the audible signal has ceased.
(3) 
After an entry has been made in accordance with this section, the Chief of Police shall have the property secured, if necessary, and a report of the action taken recorded. The reasonable costs and expenses of abating the disturbance in accordance with this section may be assessed to the alarm user, said assessment not to exceed one hundred ($100) dollars.
(4) 
Within ten (10) days after abatement of a disturbance in accordance with this section, the alarm user may request a hearing before the Select Board of North Reading and may present evidence showing that the signal emitted by his or her alarm system did not constitute a disturbance of the peace at the time of the abatement; that unnecessary damage was caused to his or her property in the course of the abatement; that the costs of the abatement should not be assessed to him or her; or that the requirements of this section were not fulfilled. The Select Board shall hear all interested parties and may, in its discretion, reimburse the alarm user for the repairs to his property necessitated by the abatement, or excuse the alarm user from paying the costs of the abatement.
[Amended 6-4-2018 ATM by Art. 28, approved 9-21-2018]
A. 
After the Police Department has recorded three (3) separate false alarms within a twelve (12) month period from an alarm system, the Chief of Police shall notify the alarm user, in writing and by certified mail, of such fact and require said user to submit, within fifteen (15) days after receipt of such notice, a report describing efforts to discover and eliminate the cause or causes of the false alarms. If said user, because of absence from the Town or on any other reasonable basis, requests an extension of time for filing the report, the Chief of Police may extend the fifteen (15) day period for a reasonable period. If said user fails to submit such a report within fifteen (15) days or within such extended period, the Chief of Police shall order that use of the alarm system be discontinued. Any such discontinuance shall be effectuated within fifteen (15) days from the date of receipt of the Chief of Police's order.
B. 
In the event that the Chief of Police determines that a report submitted in accordance with Subsection A of this section is unsatisfactory or that the alarm user has failed to show by the report that he or she has taken or will take reasonable steps to eliminate or reduce false alarms, then the Chief of Police shall order that use of the alarm system be discontinued. Any such discontinuance shall be effectuated within fifteen (15) days from the date of receipt of the Chief of Police's order.
C. 
Any user of an alarm system which transmits repeated false alarm signals, whether or not because of the fault of the user, shall be responsible for the expense sustained by the Town, and specifically its safety departments, in responding to such alarm and/or taking the steps necessary to ascertain the nature of the alarm and temporarily to correct the situation. For each false alarm in excess of three (3) occurring within a twelve (12) month period, from midnight on the date of the first alarm, the user shall be responsible to pay the Town the sum of fifty ($50) dollars, which amount has been determined to be a reasonable assessment for dealing with a false alarm. The cost amount so assessed shall be subject to change by the Chief of Police, with Select Board approval, depending on an increase or decrease in the constituent expenses upon which the assessment is based.
[Amended 6-4-2018 ATM by Art. 28, approved 9-21-2018]
D. 
All assessments hereunder shall be made payable to the Town Treasurer for deposit in the General Fund.
E. 
Upon failure of the user of an alarm system to pay two (2) consecutive assessments hereunder within sixty (60) days of each assessment, notice of which has been given by first class mail to the user's last known address, the Chief of Police shall order that the user discontinue use of the alarm system. Any such discontinuance shall be effectuated within fifteen (15) days from the date of receipt of the Chief of Police's order, which shall be given by delivery in hand or certified mail.
F. 
Any user of an alarm system who has, in accordance with this section, been ordered by the Chief of Police to discontinue use of an alarm system may appeal the order of discontinuance to the Select Board. Notice of an appeal shall be filed with the Board within fifteen (15) days of the date of the order of discontinuance. Thereafter, the Select Board shall consider the merits of the appeal and, in connection therewith, shall hear evidence presented by all interested persons. After hearing such evidence the Select Board may affirm, vacate, or modify the order of discontinuance.
[Amended 6-4-2018 ATM by Art. 28, approved 9-21-2018]
Violations of these rules and regulations shall constitute violations of the by-laws of the Town of North Reading and shall be punishable by a fine of up to fifty ($50) dollars. Each day during which the aforesaid violations continue shall constitute a separate offense.