City of Fitchburg, MA
Worcester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Fitchburg 7-21-1992 by Ord. No. 98-92. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Police Department — See Ch. 40.
Building construction — See Ch. 72.
A. 
The purpose of this chapter is to encourage security alarm users and alarm businesses (sales, installation, customer service and/or monitoring) to maintain the operational reliability and the proper use of alarm systems in limiting unnecessary police emergency responses to false alarms.
B. 
This chapter governs burglary and robbery systems, requires permits, establishes fees, provides for penalties for violations, establishes a system of administration and sets conditions for the suspension or revocation of permits.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ALARM ADMINISTRATOR
A person or persons designated by the Chief to administer, control and review alarm applications, permits and false alarm notifications.
ALARM BUSINESS OWNER/INSTALLER
Any person(s) engaged in the business of installing, repairing or offering maintenance for security systems. Any such person(s) shall be governed by and conform with the provisions of MGL c. 147, §§ 57 through 61, inclusive.
[Added 11-1-1994 by Ord. No. 284-94]
ALARM NOTIFICATION
A notification intended to summon the police, which is designed either to be initiated purposely by a person or by an alarm system that responds to a stimulus characteristic of unauthorized intrusion. At the discretion of the alarm administrator, multiple false alarm notifications in a twenty-four-hour period of time may be counted as only one FAN.
ALARM REVIEW BOARD
Consists of one representative from the Police Department, one from the professional alarm industry and one from the public at large appointed by the Mayor.
ALARM SITE
A single premises or location served by an alarm system.
ALARM SYSTEM 
A device or system that emits, transmits or relays a signal intended to summon or that would reasonably be expected to summon police services of the City, including but not limited to local alarms. "Alarm system" does not include:
A. 
An alarm installed on a vehicle, unless the vehicle is permanently located at a site; nor
B. 
An alarm designed to alert only the inhabitants of a premises that does not have a local alarm.
APARTMENT
A room or set of rooms used as a dwelling and located within an apartment complex.
[Added 11-1-1994 by Ord. No. 284-94]
APARTMENT COMPLEX
A building or buildings containing separate residential apartments.
[Added 11-1-1994 by Ord. No. 284-94]
CHIEF
The Chief of Police or the Alarm Administrator so designated by him or her or an authorized representative.
[Amended 6-3-2014 by Ord. No. 100-2014]
FALSE ALARM NOTIFICATION (FAN) 
An alarm notification to the Police Department when the responding officer finds no evidence of a criminal offense or attempted criminal offense. Excluded from this definition are:
A. 
Alarms occurring during electrical storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and acts of God;
B. 
The intermittent disruption or disruption of the telephone circuits beyond the control of the alarm company and/or alarm user;
C. 
An electrical power disruption or failure; or
D. 
Alarms caused by a failure of the equipment at the communication center.
LOCAL ALARM
An alarm system that emits a signal at an alarm site, that is audible or visible from the exterior of the structure.
PERMIT HOLDER
The person designated in the application, as required in § 140-3C(1), who is responsible for responding to alarms and giving access to the site or who is responsible for the proper maintenance and operation of the alarm system and for the payment of fees.
PERSON
An individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization or similar entity.
SPECIAL TRUNKLINE
A telephone line leading into the communications center of the Police Department that is for the primary purpose of receiving emergency messages that originate from automatic protection devices and that are transmitted through an alarm monitoring company.
A. 
A person commits an offense if he or she operates or causes to be operated an alarm system without a valid permit issued by the Chief. A separate permit is required for each alarm system.
[Amended 6-3-2014 by Ord. No. 100-2014]
B. 
Upon receipt of a completed registration form and a nonrefundable permit fee of $25 for a new permit, the Chief shall issue an alarm permit to an applicant unless the applicant has:
[Amended 11-1-1994 by Ord. No. 284-94]
(1) 
Failed to pay a fee assessed under § 140-11A and C; or
(2) 
Had an alarm permit for the alarm site revoked, and the violation causing the revocation has not been corrected.
C. 
Each permit applicant must include the following information:
(1) 
The name, address and telephone numbers of the person who will be the permit holder and will be responsible for the proper maintenance and operation of the alarm system and for the payment of fees assessed under this chapter.
(2) 
The classification of the alarm site as residential, commercial or apartment.
(3) 
For each alarm system located at the alarm site, the purpose of the alarm system, i.e., burglary or robbery.
(4) 
When required by this chapter, certification from a person licensed by the State of Massachusetts to install or design systems, stating:
(a) 
The date of installation or maintenance of the alarm system, whichever is applicable.
(b) 
The current state license number of the person performing or directly supervising the installation or maintenance of the alarm system.
(5) 
Other information required by the Chief that is necessary for the enforcement of this chapter.
(6) 
A copy of the permit issued by the Wire Department covering the installation of the alarm system.
[Added 11-1-1994 by Ord. No. 284-94]
D. 
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.
E. 
An alarm permit cannot be transferred to another person. A permit holder shall inform the Chief of any change that alters any information listed on the permit application within two business days. No fee will be assessed for such changes.
F. 
All fees owned by an applicant must be paid before a permit may be issued or renewed.
[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 140-4, Alarm systems in apartment complexes, was repealed 11-1-1994 by Ord. No. 284-94.
[Amended 11-1-1994 by Ord. No. 284-94]
A. 
A permit expires one year from the date of issuance and must be renewed for a new one-year period by submitting an updated application and a permit renewal fee to the Chief. It is the responsibility of the permit holder to submit an application prior to the permit expiration date. Failure to renew will be classified as use of a nonpermitted alarm system, and penalties shall be assessed without waiver.
B. 
The Chief, at his or her discretion, may order an inspection of an alarm system by the Wire Inspector. The fee for the inspection shall be $50. If a reinspection is necessary by the Wire Inspector, the reinspection fee shall be $25.
[Amended 6-3-2014 by Ord. No. 100-2014]
C. 
Alarms in residences installed prior to January 1, 1994, shall be exempt from the twenty-five-dollar permit fee.
A permit holder or person in control of an alarm system shall:
A. 
Maintain the premises and the alarm system in a manner that will minimize or eliminate false alarm notifications.
B. 
Not manually activate an alarm for any reason other than an occurrence of an event that the alarm system was intended to report.
C. 
Respond or cause his or her representative to appear at the system location within a reasonable period of time when notified by the alarm monitoring company to deactivate a malfunctioning alarm system, to provide access to the premises or to provide security for the premises.
[Amended 6-3-2014 by Ord. No. 100-2014]
D. 
Adjust the mechanism or cause the mechanism to be adjusted so that an alarm signal will sound for no longer than 15 minutes after being activated.
A person in control of a local alarm or alarm system shall not contract or retain an alarm company that is not properly licensed according to the most recent Massachusetts General Laws governing the same.
A person who is engaged in the business of relaying alarm notifications to the police shall:
A. 
Report alarms only over special trunklines or other communication facilities designated by the Chief; and
B. 
Communicate alarm notifications to the police in a manner and form determined by the Chief.
A. 
The officer responding to an alarm reporting a burglary or robbery shall record such information as necessary to permit the Chief to maintain records, including but not limited to the following information:
(1) 
Identification of the property owner or the person in control.
(2) 
Identification of the alarm site.
(3) 
The date and time of such occurrence.
(4) 
The name of the responding officer.
B. 
The police shall keep a record of whether the notification was caused by a criminal offense or an attempted criminal offense or was a false alarm.
C. 
In the case of an assumed false alarm, the responding officer shall leave notice at the alarm site that the Police Department has responded to a false alarm notification. The notice will include the following information:
(1) 
The date and time of police response to the false alarm notification.
(2) 
The name of the responding officer.
(3) 
A statement urging the permit holder to ensure that the alarm system is properly operating and maintained.
If there is a reason to believe that an alarm system is not being used or maintained in a manner that ensures proper operation and suppression of false alarms, the Chief may require a conference with an alarm permit holder and the individual or association responsible for maintenance of the alarm system to review the circumstances of each false alarm.
A. 
The holder of an alarm permit or the person in control of an alarm system shall be subject to warning, fines, suspension or revocation of the permit, depending on the number of false alarm notifications emitted from an alarm system within a twelve-month period based upon the following schedule:
Number of False Alarm Notifications
Action Taken
1
Written notice per § 140-9C
2
Warning letter No. 1
3
Warning letter No. 2, plus a fine of $25
4
Suspension of permit, plus a fine of $50
5 and subsequent
Revocation of permit, plus a fine of $100
B. 
Any person who operates a newly installed system will not be subject to a false alarm notification during the 30 days following completion of the system, provided that a permit application is received by the Chief. The completion date shall be certified by a person currently licensed by the State of Massachusetts.
C. 
Any person operating a nonpermitted alarm system will be subject to an assessment of $50 for each FAN without benefit of the notifications provided for in § 140-11A above. Subsequent submittal of an alarm permit application may allow waiver of subsequent fee assessments, but each FAN previously received shall be counted in accumulating the five-notification total.
D. 
Any person utilizing a tape dialer with an accompanying alarm message to notify the police of an alarm by accessing police emergency phone lines shall be assessed $200 for each such occurrence.
E. 
Alarm activations caused by criminal activity or with evidence of criminal attempt shall not be counted nor FAN's accumulated.
A. 
The fourth FAN shall result in a notice of suspension of permit. This notice shall be sent by the Chief to the permit holder by certified mail, return receipt requested. It will state, in part, that police response to the address in question, as a result of an alarm notification, will terminate upon the Police Department's receiving of the return receipt. If the notice is undeliverable via the postal service, a police officer will deliver the notice to the permit holder at the address supplied in the application. In-hand service, in this case, is not a requirement.
B. 
The suspension shall remain in effect until such time as:
(1) 
The permit holder pays or otherwise resolves all fines sought under the provisions of this chapter.
(2) 
The permit holder submits a certificate from a professional alarm company, licensed by the State of Massachusetts to install or design alarm systems, stating that the alarm system in question has been repaired and/or inspected and its users instructed in its use and that it is capable of proper service.
A. 
The Chief may revoke an alarm permit if it is determined that:
(1) 
There is a false statement of a material matter in the application for permit.
(2) 
The permit holder has violated §§ 140-6, 140-7 or 140-8.
(3) 
The permit holder has failed to make timely payment of a fee assessment under § 140-11A or C.
(4) 
Five or more FAN's have been emitted from the alarm site within a twelve-month period.
B. 
A person commits an offense if he or she operates or causes to be operated an alarm system during the period in which his or her permit is revoked.
[Amended 6-3-2014 by Ord. No. 100-2014]
C. 
The notice of revocation statement will be the same as that stated in § 140-12A.
A. 
Permit holders shall be entitled to a hearing if requested within 10 days of receipt of the notice of revocation. The request must be made through the Chief. The hearing will be conducted by the Alarm Review Board within 10 days of said request.
B. 
The Alarm Review Board shall conduct a formal hearing and shall consider the evidence by any interested person(s). The Board shall make its decision based on a preponderance of the evidence presented. The Board must render a decision within 10 days of the hearing. The Board may affirm, reverse or modify the action of the Chief. The decision of the Board is final as to administrative remedies with the City.
A person whose alarm permit has been revoked may be issued a new permit if the person:
A. 
Submits an updated application and pays a permit fee of $25.
B. 
Pays or otherwise resolves all fines, complaints or pending complaints in District Court assessed or filed against said person under the provisions of this chapter.
C. 
Submits a certificate from a professional alarm company licensed by the State of Massachusetts to install or design alarm systems, stating that the alarm system in question has been repaired and or inspected and is capable of proper service.
A. 
Acceptable form of alarm reporting. All alarms coming into the Fitchburg Police Department must be received on special alarm phones via dedicated trunklines established and maintained for alarm reporting only. Access to these trunklines and associated phone numbers will only be available to verified alarm monitoring companies.
B. 
Unacceptable forms of alarm reporting are as follows:
(1) 
Direct calls to the police by any means that does not utilize the dedicated trunklines referred to in Subsection A.
(2) 
Direct lines from the alarm source to the police.
(3) 
Local alarms, not monitored.