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City of Lowell, MA
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Lowell 4-25-1989 (§ 16-9 of the 1988 Code); amended in its entirety 5-2-2006. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
A. 
It is the purpose of this chapter to govern alarm systems intended to summon public safety personnel.
B. 
It is the purpose of this chapter to reduce and/or eliminate false alarms within the City by establishing a framework of regulations and fees which encourage owners and alarm businesses to properly register, use, and maintain the operational effectiveness of their alarm system(s).
C. 
This chapter provides a fee and penalty assessment schedule, procedures for repeat offenses, the severability of parts hereof if declared invalid, and an effective date.
The following terms and associated definitions are used throughout this chapter:
9-1-1 EMERGENCY DISPATCH CENTER
The monitoring facility within the City where alarm signals are received, recorded, validated, and acted upon as appropriate.
ADOPTED CODE(S)
Code adopted by the City Council and in the absence of adopted code the National Fire Protection Association National Fire Alarm Code 72 (NFPA 72), the National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code (NFPA 101), MGL c. 148 (Fire Prevention), as well as all other City and state regulations.
ALARM ACTIVATION REPORT
A document issued by the enforcement official indicating that the alarm system activation was deemed to be the result of a fire alarm, police alarm, or a false alarm. This may include the record of completion form in the National Fire Protection Association's National Fire Alarm Code (NFPA 72) or other forms as applicable.
ALARM BUSINESS
Any licensed individual, partnership, corporation or other entity that is appropriately licensed in the City and installs, causes to be installed, permits to be installed, alters, maintains, repairs, replaces or services (including runner services) any alarm system.
ALARM INITIATING DEVICE
A device that is designed to respond either manually or automatically to initiate an alarm system.
ALARM OWNER
Any person that has installed, owns, alters, maintains, repairs, replaces, services or otherwise uses any alarm system.
ALARM SIGNAL
Any form of communication and/or notification via manual or automated alarm initiating devices, including audio or visual means, to the 9-1-1 Dispatch Center.
ALARM SYSTEM
Includes fire alarms and police alarms as appropriate. Motor vehicle alarms are not included in this chapter.
ALARM SYSTEM PERMIT
A residential or commercial permit issued for maintaining or operating an alarm system within the City.
ANSWERING SERVICE
Any telephone service or central alarm company that handles messages and provides the service of receiving alarm signals from an alarm system and thereafter immediately relays the message by live and/or recorded voice to the 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch Center.
APPEAL
The act of referring a decision by the appropriate enforcement official to a higher authority within the City for review and final disposition.
APPEAL FEE
A fee filed for appealing a ruling related to actions associated with this chapter.
BOARD OF ALARM COMMISSIONERS
A board appointed as described in this chapter responsible for hearing and ruling on final appeals related to actions associated with this chapter.
CENTRAL ALARM
Any facility which is privately/publicly owned, that owns or leases an alarm system, whose facility is staffed by employees who receive, record, or validate alarm signals and relay the information of such signals to the 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch Center.
CITY
The City of Lowell, Massachusetts.
COMMERCIAL ALARM SYSTEM PERMIT
An alarm system permit issued to a commercial business, corporation, or unincorporated association.
COMMONWEALTH
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
CONDOMINIUM
A dwelling designed for or occupied by one family within a multi-unit development, or a commercial unit within a multi-unit commercial development, where the owner has both separate ownership of a unit and a common interest, along with the development's other owners, in the common areas.
DIAL ALARM
An alarm system which automatically selects a telephone line connected to the 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch Center and reproduces a prerecorded message indicating the existence of an alarm signal.
DIRECT ALARM
The City's municipal alarm system.
DWELLING UNIT
Any room or suite of rooms forming a habitable unit for one family, with its own cooking and food storage equipment and its own bathing and toilet facilities and its own living, sleeping and eating areas wholly within such room or suite of rooms.
ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL
The Fire Chief or his designee for fire alarms and the Police Superintendent or his designee for police alarms.
FALSE ALARM
The activation of any alarm system which results in a response by public safety personnel and which is caused by the negligence, intentional misuse, lack of maintenance or repair, or improper installation of an alarm system by the owner, its employees, or agents, or by mechanical failure, malfunction, malicious or intentional activation, or any other response for which the appropriate enforcement official is unable to determine the apparent cause of the alarm signal activation, or which constitutes a public nuisance, or any other activation of a fire alarm system not caused by heat, smoke or fire, or any other activation of a police alarm system not caused by hazard, robbery, or attempted robbery. Excluded from this definition are activations of alarm systems caused by power outages, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, serious water leaks through the roof, or a person that has no other means of eliciting an emergency response by public safety personnel for valid emergency reasons.
FEE
The assessment of a monetary charge payable to the City pursuant this chapter as outlined in Appendix A, Service and Penalty Fees.[1]
FIRE ALARM
An alarm signal intended to initiate a response by the Fire Department to heat, smoke, fire, or activation of a fire suppression system or supervisory signal. In this chapter, the term "fire alarm" shall include "dial alarm," "direct alarm," "local alarm" and "central alarm" as those terms are herein defined.
FIRE ALARM SYSTEM
An assembly of equipment and devices, or a single device, personnel, or combination thereof, meant to monitor, announce and/or exterior annunciate the status of temperature, heat, smoke sensing systems or supervisory signal and to initiate the appropriate response to those systems to which public safety personnel are expected to respond.
FIRE CHIEF
The City of Lowell Fire Department's Chief, or his designated representative.
FIRE DEPARTMENT
The City of Lowell Fire Department, or any authorized agent thereof, including but not limited to fire officers, firefighters, fire inspectors, or out-of-town mutual aid fire officers or firefighters, when in the performance of their duties within the City as defined in various mutual aid agreements.
FIRE WATCH
Uniformed members of the Lowell Fire Department assigned to the premises for the purposes of watching over the property and protecting the occupants, structures, or neighboring structures from fire or similar emergencies. A fire watch may involve at least some special action beyond normal staffing. The owner shall incur all costs for said fire watch.
INSPECTIONAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT
The City's building permit, zoning, and code enforcement department.
LIEN
The City has entered into record the nonpayment of fees which are due from an owner regarding specific premises, to be acted on accordingly.
LOCAL ALARM
Any alarm system which may not be connected to the 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch Center, or to a central alarm company or answering service, which when activated causes an alarm signal at the premises within which the alarm system is installed.
MONITORED SYSTEM
The process by which an alarm business receives signals from an alarm system and notifies the City's 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch Center.
MULTIFAMILY RESIDENCE
A building containing three or more dwelling units and wherein units may be located on more than one floor.
MUNICIPAL ALARM SYSTEM
The City's alarm pull-box system which is directly connected to the City's 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch Center.
OCCUPANCY CERTIFICATE
The permit from the City's Inspectional Services Department deeming that a structure has met the minimum requirements for its intended use.
OWNER
Any person who owns the premises in which an alarm system is installed and/or the person or persons who lease, operate, occupy or manage the premises.
PENALTIES
Fees associated with noncompliance with this chapter, per Appendix A, Service and Penalty Fees.[2]
PERMIT
Written permission duly granted to an applicant by the City upon payment of the required fees per the ordinance establishing the permit, MGL c. 148 or 527 CMR, or other fee schedules.
PERMIT REGISTRATION
The application for a permit by an owner with the appropriate enforcement official for an alarm system which has been installed and is in use. The application requires current contact information and additional data as appropriate.
PERMIT YEAR
A period of time during which a permit is considered valid. For the purposes of this chapter, the permit year for an alarm system permit begins on January 1 and ends on December 31 of each calendar year.
PERSON
Any natural person, partnership, corporation, unincorporated association, or other legal entity.
POLICE ALARM
An alarm signal intended to initiate a response by the Police Department. In this chapter, the term "police alarm" shall include "dial alarm," "direct alarm," "local alarm" and "central alarm" as those terms are herein defined.
POLICE ALARM SYSTEM
An assembly of equipment and devices, or a single device, personnel, or combination thereof, meant to monitor, announce and/or exterior annunciate the status of a hazard, intrusion, robbery, attempted robbery, or supervisory signal, and to initiate the appropriate response to those systems to which public safety personnel are expected to respond.
POLICE DEPARTMENT
The City of Lowell Police Department or any authorized agent thereof, including but not limited to police officers, detectives, or investigators.
POLICE DETAIL
Police Department personnel assigned to the premises for the purposes of watching over the property and protecting the public safety. A police detail may involve at least some special action beyond normal staffing.
PREMISES
Any building, structure or combination of buildings and structures which serve as dwelling units, multifamily or any other area within a building, structure or combination thereof which is used for any purpose.
PUBLIC NUISANCE
Any event which disturbs the peace, comfort or repose of a community, a neighborhood, or inhabitants of the area.
PUBLIC SAFETY PERSONNEL
City staff, including but not limited to members of the Fire Department, Police Department, or other City safety-related personnel, or any combination thereof.
QUALIFIED ALARM TECHNICIAN
Any person who inspects, installs, repairs or performs maintenance on alarm systems or alarm initiating devices. This person shall be:
A. 
Factory trained and certified;
B. 
National Institute of Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) Fire Alarm Level II certified (for fire alarms); or
C. 
Licensed or certified by the commonwealth or local authority.
RECONNECT FEE
A fee associated with the reconnection of an alarm system.
REPORT OF SERVICE/REPAIR
Appropriate documentation in a format acceptable to the appropriate enforcement official that verifies proper repairs or maintenance has been performed by the alarm business and/or the owner in order to avoid false alarms.
RESIDENTIAL ALARM SYSTEM PERMIT
An alarm system permit issued to a private dwelling such as a single-family, two-family, and multifamily residence.
RUNNER SERVICE
The service provided by personnel or electronic transmission means at the protected premises, including resetting and silencing of all equipment transmitting alarm or supervisory signal to an off-premises location.
SERVE
Hand delivery of written notification by a representative of the City to the owner or authorized representative who responded to the premises. In the event that the owner or authorized representative fails to respond to the premises within 30 minutes of notification attempt by the appropriate enforcement official, "serve" shall mean placing the form or other matter in the United States Postal Service mail, postage prepaid, addressed to the owner or authorized representative, and/or posting in a conspicuous location on the premises.
SINGLE-FAMILY RESIDENCE
A detached dwelling, other than a mobile home, designed for or occupied by one family.
SUPERINTENDENT
The City of Lowell Police Department's Superintendent of Police or his designated representative.
SUPERVISORY SIGNAL
Any signal designed to initiate an alarm system to prevent tampering with an alarm initiating device, or a signal that indicates a situation that is out of the ordinary and may interfere with the normal operation of the system.
TWO-FAMILY RESIDENCE
A freestanding building designed or intended exclusively for residential use, containing two dwelling units, each family occupying a single dwelling unit, typically situated one above the other but may also be two attached dwelling units.
[1]
Editor's Note: Appendix A is included at the end of this chapter.
[2]
Editor's Note: Appendix A is included at the end of this chapter.
A. 
Within 90 days from the effective date of this chapter, every alarm owner shall submit a permit registration as specified below for an alarm system permit which shall be required to maintain and/or operate an alarm system within the City. Additionally, all owners are required to comply with the provisions of 527 CMR, if applicable.
B. 
A residential alarm system permit shall include all private dwellings, such as condominiums and single-family, two-family and multifamily residences, occupied primarily by the owner, for which the owner will submit an alarm permit registration and associated fee. A commercial alarm system permit shall include all businesses, corporations, or unincorporated associations for which the owner will submit an alarm permit registration and associated fee. Residences or businesses which have only local alarms are not required to obtain a permit under this chapter but are still subject to the fines, penalties, and appeal fees described in Appendix A.
C. 
All fees and penalties are outlined in Appendix A, Service and Penalty Fees.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Appendix A is included at the end of this chapter.
D. 
The appropriate enforcement official is hereby authorized to issue an alarm system permit to any alarm owner of premises within the City, or the lessee thereof, to maintain, install, and modify an alarm system upon permit registration for an alarm system permit which conforms to this chapter, subject to the following provisions:
(1) 
Every alarm business shall notify the appropriate enforcement official of the existence of an alarm system prior to the alarm system being put into operation. It shall be the responsibility of the installing alarm business to provide the owner with:
(a) 
Notice of the existence of this chapter.
(b) 
An alarm system permit registration form.
(c) 
A copy of the alarm system operation and manufacturer's instructions in accordance with adopted codes.
(2) 
The appropriate residential or commercial permit registration and fee for an alarm system permit shall be required for all alarm systems within the City, in accordance with adopted codes for each premises.
(a) 
The owner shall complete and deliver the permit registration (and any updates) in the required format along with the required fee to the appropriate enforcement official before the alarm system is activated or placed into service. The alarm business, when authorized by the owner, may assist the owner in accomplishing this submission of the permit registration to the appropriate enforcement official.
(b) 
All federal, state, county, or local government agencies which operate an alarm system shall be exempt from all permit fees but shall be required to comply with all other requirements of this chapter, and with all requests of the appropriate enforcement official, as shall concern the installation, operation, and maintenance of their alarm system; a permit registration is required regardless.
(c) 
All persons 65 years of age or older who are the principal occupant of the premises listed on the alarm system permit shall be exempt from all permit fees for residential permits but shall have to comply with all other requirements of this chapter; a permit registration is required regardless.
(3) 
The permit registration for the alarm system permit shall include the minimum following information:
(a) 
Information on the owner, lessee, operator, manager, or person in possession of the premises where the alarm system is installed:
[1] 
Name;
[2] 
Mailing address;
[3] 
Business and home telephone number; and
[4] 
Premises address.
(b) 
Notification information for a minimum of two persons for a single-family residence and three persons for all other property who can be notified by the appropriate enforcement official, in the event of the activation of the alarm system, who shall be capable of responding to the premises within 30 minutes and who are authorized to enter the premises to ascertain the status thereof. This information should include:
[1] 
Name;
[2] 
Business and home telephone number; and
[3] 
Home address.
(c) 
Information on any alarm business which has contracted to service the alarm system at this premises and proof of proper commonwealth licensing/registration with the appropriate enforcement official, if required. This information should include:
[1] 
Name;
[2] 
Mailing address; and
[3] 
Business telephone number.
(d) 
Signature of the owner, lessee, operator, manager, or person in possession of the premises where the alarm system is installed.
(e) 
The date the alarm system permit registration is signed.
(f) 
The date the alarm system is placed in operation for any reason.
(g) 
Any other documentation that is required by adopted codes.
(4) 
Keys/codes to alarm panels and activation devices, as necessary, must be provided to the appropriate enforcement official at the time the permit registration is submitted.
(5) 
It shall be the responsibility of the alarm system owner to keep all permit information current and up-to-date.
(a) 
When any of the information required in Subsection D(3)(a) to (c) has changed, it shall be reported to the appropriate enforcement official by the owner within 15 days of the owner becoming aware of such a change.
(b) 
There shall be no fee for permit registration updates during the permit year.
(6) 
Registrations shall not be transferable from one premises to another or from one owner to another.
(7) 
All alarm owners to whom a permit has been issued shall keep the permit within the protected premises for which the permit was issued.
(8) 
Any alarm system permit issued under this chapter must be made available for inspection, suspension, or revocation purposes upon the demand of the appropriate enforcement official.
(9) 
All alarm system permits expire at the end of the permit year, at which time the alarm owner of the premises within the City must submit a new or updated permit registration and fee in accordance with adopted codes for each premises, in order to renew the alarm system permit for the new permit year.
(10) 
An alarm system owner or alarm business whose permit has been revoked is not precluded under this chapter from applying for a new permit.
(a) 
The enforcement official is not required to issue a new permit unless he is satisfied that the alarm system has been properly serviced and any deficiencies have been corrected.
(b) 
The enforcement official may impose reasonable restrictions and conditions upon the owner before issuing a new permit; these restrictions and/or conditions shall appear on the permit and shall provide for automatic revocation on the occurrence of two false alarms in the remaining permit year.
(11) 
Failure to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter may constitute grounds for the appropriate enforcement official to deny the issuance of an alarm system permit or for the suspension/revocation of an existing permit.
A. 
The owner shall ensure that:
(1) 
All alarm systems are inspected and tested at least once per year in accordance with manufacturer specifications, Massachusetts General Laws, and adopted codes;
(2) 
Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws and other adopted codes, the appropriate enforcement official(s) is notified prior to the testing, demonstration, or maintenance of a dial alarm, direct alarm, central alarm system, or any other alarm that may transmit emergency messages directly or through relay to the 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch Center; and
(3) 
The appropriate enforcement official(s) is notified prior to the installation, repair or expansion of a dial alarm, direct alarm, central alarm system, or any other alarm that may transmit emergency messages directly or through relay to the 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch Center.
B. 
The unauthorized testing of any alarm initiating device that causes the dispatch of public safety personnel may be considered to constitute a false alarm.
C. 
Additionally, all owners are required to comply with the provisions of 527 CMR, if applicable.
A. 
The owner shall be responsible for the activation of an alarm system.
B. 
All alarm systems, as defined in this chapter, which make or sound an audible signal which may be heard outside of the protected premises shall be equipped with a device which shall limit the duration of such audible signal to not more than 20 minutes. The alarm systems shall be equipped to sound an alarm again if a different activation device gives an indication of an alarm.
C. 
A response to the activation of an alarm system shall result when public safety personnel are dispatched to the premises where the alarm system has been activated.
(1) 
At the time of response, if the need arises, the appropriate enforcement official shall attempt to notify any person identified in the permit registration required pursuant to § 96-3D(3)(a) to (c) of the activation of the alarm system and shall require such person to respond to the premises.
(2) 
In the event that the alarm system is a monitored system, it is the responsibility of the alarm business monitoring the alarm system to notify any person identified in the registration at the request of the appropriate enforcement official. It is the responsibility of the alarm business to forward cancellation of an alarm signal to the 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch Center for any alarm system which is a monitored system.
A. 
False alarms may include the activation of any alarm system which results in a response by public safety personnel and which is caused by the negligence, intentional misuse, lack of maintenance or repair, or improper installation of an alarm system by the owner, its employees, or agents, or by mechanical failure, malfunction, malicious or intentional activation, or any other response for which the appropriate enforcement official is unable to determine the apparent cause of the alarm signal activation, or which constitutes a public nuisance, or any other activation of a fire alarm system not caused by heat, smoke or fire, or any other activation of a police alarm system not caused by hazard, robbery, or attempted robbery. Excluded from this definition are activations of alarm systems caused by power outages, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, or a person that has no other means of eliciting an emergency response by public safety personnel for valid emergency reasons.
B. 
Any alarm system emitting a continuous and/or uninterrupted audible alarm signal for more than 20 minutes between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., which cannot be shut off, reset, or otherwise curtailed, and which disturbs the peace, comfort, or repose of a community, a neighborhood, or the inhabitants of the area where the alarm system is located, shall constitute a public nuisance and, therefore, may be considered a false alarm.
C. 
Upon notification attempts by the appropriate enforcement official following an alarm as described above in Subsections A and B, if the alarm system owner or person identified in the permit registration pursuant to § 96-3D(3)(a) to (c) fails to appear at the premises within 30 minutes, the alarm may be deemed and counted as a false alarm.
(1) 
In the event of a false alarm, the owner will be served with an alarm activation report.
(2) 
False alarms are subject to fees.
(3) 
Following two or more false alarms from the same alarm system within a twenty-four-hour period, public safety personnel may not respond to any further alarm signals from that premises until:
(a) 
The alarm system is reset by the alarm system owner; or
(b) 
In the case of a defective alarm system, until the alarm system has been repaired and a satisfactory report of service/repair has been submitted to the appropriate enforcement official, pursuant to Subsection D(1) and (2).
D. 
Following three false alarm activation reports within a permit year from the same alarm system, the appropriate enforcement official shall require the owner to return a completed report of service/repair within 15 days of receipt of the third alarm activation report.
(1) 
The returned report of service/repair must indicate, to the reasonable satisfaction of the appropriate enforcement official, that:
(a) 
The alarm system has actually been examined by a qualified alarm technician; and
(b) 
A bona fide attempt has been made to identify and correct any defect of design, installation or operation of the alarm system which was identifiable as the cause of the false alarm.
(2) 
Failure to return a report of service/repair within said fifteen-day period shall result in an assessment against the owner of a penalty for late report of a service/repair. If the owner, on the basis of absence from the City, or on any other reasonable basis, requests an extension of time for filing the report of service/repair, the appropriate enforcement official may extend the fifteen-day period for a reasonable time.
E. 
In the event that the owner or person identified in the permit registration pursuant to § 96-3D(3)(a) to (c) cannot or will not curtail an alarm signal being emitted by the alarm, and if the appropriate enforcement official is otherwise unable to abate the public nuisance, public safety personnel or an alarm technician may be directed to enter upon the premises in which the alarm system is located and take any reasonable action necessary to abate the false alarm at the expense of the owner.
(1) 
If entry to the premises is determined to be necessary, the person doing so:
(a) 
Shall be considered lawfully present but may not conduct any search, seizure, inspection, or investigation while on the premises;
(b) 
Shall not cause any unnecessary damage to the alarm system or to any part of the premises; and
(c) 
Shall leave the premises immediately after the alarm signal has ceased.
(2) 
Following necessary entry to a premises according to this chapter, the appropriate enforcement official shall have the premises secured as necessary.
(3) 
The reasonable costs and expenses of abating a false alarm in accordance with this chapter may be assessed to the alarm owner or alarm business.
F. 
Any alarm system owner or alarm business may appeal false alarm fees in writing pursuant to § 96-9.
A. 
The provisions of this section shall not apply to any newly installed alarm system for a period of 45 days from the date of installation but shall apply from and after the expiration of the initial forty-five-day period following installation.
B. 
All fees and penalties are outlined in Appendix A, Service and Penalty Fees.[1]
(1) 
All fees are to be paid by cash or check to the City of Lowell for deposit into the City's general fund.
(2) 
Should any fee assessed pursuant to this chapter remain unpaid in excess of 30 days from the date fees are billed, a late payment penalty will be assessed for each 30 days (or portion thereof) during which fees remain unpaid, in addition to any original fees or penalties assessed.
(3) 
Nonpayment of fees pursuant to this chapter may result in the placement of a lien against the affected premises pursuant to the procedure outlined for the City in Chapter 390 of the Acts of 2002, An Act Authorizing the City of Lowell to Place Municipal Charge Liens on Certain Properties in the City of Lowell for Nonpayment of any Local Charges, Fee, or Fine.
[1]
Editor's Note: Appendix A is included at the end of this chapter.
C. 
Alarm permit registration/renewal fees.
(1) 
A nonrefundable, nonprorateable alarm permit registration/renewal fee shall be assessed at the time of each initial permit registration, in accordance with § 96-3D(2).
(2) 
All alarm permits expire at the end of the permit year, at which time they must be renewed, in accordance with § 96-3D(9). Registration for the renewal of an alarm system permit shall be made every year within 30 days immediately preceding January 1.
(3) 
There shall be no fee for permit registration updates during the permit year in accordance with § 96-3D(5)(b).
(4) 
There shall be a penalty for failure to register an alarm system in accordance with § 96-8A(1).
D. 
False alarm fees.
(1) 
No fee shall be assessed for the first two false alarms at the same premises responded to by public safety personnel during each permit year. Thereafter, the owner shall be assessed for false alarms responded to by public safety personnel at the same premises during each permit year, except when the alarm business is deemed responsible for the false alarm by the appropriate enforcement official.
(a) 
The alarm business shall be assessed a penalty for alarms caused by on-site alarm company employees if the appropriate enforcement official determines that a false alarm was directly caused by an on-site employee or representative of the alarm business. In this event, no false alarm shall be counted against the owner.
(b) 
Notwithstanding Subsection D(1)(a) above, no false alarm shall be assessed to either an owner or alarm business for alarm signals transmitted during the inspection, maintenance, repair, or expansion of an alarm system so long as the appropriate enforcement official has been notified as required in § 96-4A above.
(2) 
False alarms activated by any components connected to the alarm system shall be included in computing the total number of false alarms for purposes of this Subsection D.
(3) 
Activation of an alarm system will not be considered a false alarm if the appropriate enforcement official determines that the alarm system's activation is due to malicious or extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the owner.
(4) 
The following fees shall be assessed for false alarms: see Appendix A, Service and Penalty Fees.[2]
[2]
Editor's Note: Appendix A is included at the end of this chapter.
(5) 
In the event that the premises are equipped with an alarm system with over 100 alarm initiating devices, the appropriate enforcement official may waive three false alarms per permit year.
E. 
Penalty for failure to return a report of service/repair will be assessed for the failure to return a report of service/repair within the given fifteen-day period, in the absence of any extension by the appropriate enforcement official.
F. 
An appeal fee shall be assessed for each written appeal submitted in accordance with § 96-9.
G. 
A penalty for failing to comply with an enforcement official's alarm system orders will be assessed when the appropriate enforcement official's orders are not followed.
H. 
A reconnection fee shall be assessed for each instance in which the owner's alarm system permit is revoked prior to being allowed to register for a new permit. The reconnection fee will be accepted in lieu of additional permit registration fees during that permit year.
A. 
Enforcement generally.
(1) 
It shall be unlawful for any person or alarm business to maintain or operate an alarm system, as defined by the terms of this chapter, without first obtaining an alarm system permit. It shall be unlawful for any person or alarm business to fail to comply with an enforcement official's alarm system orders.
(2) 
Any person or alarm business who or which maintains or operates an alarm system without an alarm system permit or fails to comply with an enforcement official's alarm system orders shall be guilty of a violation of this chapter, enforcement of which shall be by arrest or by criminal complaint or by noncriminal disposition as hereinafter provided.
(3) 
Criminal disposition. Upon arrest and/or criminal complaint, a person who commits a violation of this chapter shall be, if so found by the court, guilty of a separate offense for each day during which the violation is committed, continued, or permitted. Each offense, upon conviction, is punishable by a fine as described in Appendix A.
(4) 
Noncriminal disposition. Any person who commits a violation of this chapter may be penalized by a noncriminal disposition as provided for under § 1-6 of this Code and MGL c. 40, § 21D, as amended. This chapter shall be enforced by the appropriate enforcement official, who shall issue a notice to appear in court. The penalty for each violation shall be as described in Appendix A for each day during which the violation is committed, continued, or permitted.
B. 
Enforcement officials.
(1) 
As a result of repetitive false alarms, and in accordance with adopted codes, the appropriate enforcement official has the authority to do any of the following, and issue orders with respect thereto, until corrective action is taken:
(a) 
The enforcement official for fire alarms may order a fire watch; and/or
(b) 
The enforcement official for police alarms may order a police detail; and/or
(c) 
Revoke the alarm system permit; and/or
(d) 
Require an alarm system to be disconnected or deactivated.
(2) 
The owner shall be responsible for any and all costs associated with actions taken under this section.
C. 
The appropriate enforcement official may exercise the authority granted in Subsection B by written notice to the owner of the premises for any of the following reasons:
(1) 
Failure to meet all requirements or pay the fees provided for in this chapter within 30 days after the notice is mailed to the owner;
(2) 
Failure of the owner to provide a timely written report of service/repair as required by this chapter;
(3) 
A fifth false alarm at a premises pursuant to this chapter as a result of the failure of the owner to take corrective action to eliminate the cause of the false alarm; or
(4) 
The failure of a person notified pursuant to § 96-3D(3)(a) to (c) of this chapter to appear within 30 minutes after being notified to respond, without reasonable justification, if such failure of timely response occurs two or more times within a permit year.
D. 
Fire watch or police detail.
(1) 
The owner of a premises is responsible for paying all costs associated with establishing a fire watch or police detail.
(2) 
The enforcement official has the authority to temporarily suspend or revoke the occupancy certificate if the fire watch or police detail is not maintained to the satisfaction of the enforcement official.
(3) 
A fire watch or police detail may be required until such a time that the appropriate enforcement official is satisfied with the functionality of the alarm system, and public safety threat presented by the situation, and a valid alarm system permit has been issued.
E. 
A written notice to revoke an alarm system permit shall be served to the owner or alarm business. In order to obtain a valid alarm system permit, the owner shall be required to:
(1) 
Submit a report of service/repair pursuant to § 96-6D(1) and (2);
(2) 
Submit a new permit registration for an alarm system permit; and
(3) 
Pay a reconnect fee pursuant to § 96-7H.
F. 
A written notice to disconnect or deactivate an alarm system shall be served to the owner or alarm business and shall specify the date on which the owner shall be required to disconnect or deactivate the alarm system. This date shall be at least 10 days after the notice is mailed to the owner. Notice to disconnect or deactivate an alarm system shall revoke the alarm system permit for that alarm system. In addition:
(1) 
Each building affected because the signal from the alarm system has been disconnected and/or deactivated may be required to establish a fire watch or police detail until the alarm system has been returned to service with a valid alarm system permit.
(2) 
An alarm system may be reactivated upon a finding by the appropriate enforcement official that the owner of the premises has taken corrective action to remedy the cause of the false alarms at the premises.
(3) 
In making a request for such reactivation, the owner shall have the burden of showing what corrective action has been taken.
(4) 
The appropriate enforcement official shall have the right to inspect the alarm system and test it prior to approving a permit registration to reconnect or reactivate the alarm system.
(5) 
A reconnect fee shall be assessed to the owner before any reconnection of an alarm system may be made.
(6) 
The appropriate enforcement official shall not approve a new order to reconnect or reactivate if the owner has failed to pay any fee pursuant to this chapter.
G. 
A written notice to revoke or temporarily suspend the occupancy certificate for a premises will be served to the owner on record for the premises.
(1) 
A premises for which its occupancy certificate is revoked or temporarily suspended must be immediately vacated of its intended use until all outstanding repairs on the alarm system are completed, all fees are paid, and the City's Inspectional Services Department has issued a valid occupancy certificate.
(2) 
A premises with a revoked or temporarily suspended occupancy certificate may be required to establish a fire watch or police detail until a valid occupancy certificate is obtained.
H. 
The appropriate enforcement official shall have the authority to direct the owner of the premises to silence an activated alarm system, have corrective action taken and thereafter reset it.
I. 
Anyone convicted of falsifying reports as required under this chapter is subject to maximum penalties as established by Massachusetts General Law or local law.
J. 
All provisions of the City Code, as amended, which are consistent with this chapter shall continue in effect, but all provisions of said Code inconsistent herewith are repealed to the extent of such conflict.
K. 
This chapter shall take effect upon its passage in accordance with the provisions of MGL c. 43 and c. 44.
A. 
An owner or alarm business who or which has received a written notice to revoke its alarm system permit pursuant to § 96-8B(1)(c), or to disconnect or deactivate an alarm system pursuant to § 96-8F, or would like to appeal false alarm service fees shall be entitled to submit an initial appeal to the Fire Chief or Police Superintendent, as appropriate, as follows:
(1) 
The owner or alarm business shall file a written appeal within five days after the notice is mailed clearly stating the reasons why the enforcement official's orders should be withdrawn.
(2) 
A Chief's appeal fee must accompany the appeal.
(3) 
The filing of an appeal with the Fire Chief or Police Superintendent stays the following until the Fire Chief or Police Superintendent's final decision is rendered:
(a) 
The payment of fees and penalties.
(b) 
The order to disconnect or deactivate the alarm system.
(4) 
During the appeal, the Fire Chief or Police Superintendent may decide to establish a fire watch or police detail at the premises, pursuant to § 96-8D, in order to ensure the public safety.
(5) 
The Fire Chief or Police Superintendent shall review the facts and circumstances and shall determine whether the owner or alarm business has shown good cause why the enforcement official's order should be withdrawn.
(a) 
The Fire Chief or Police Superintendent may request a hearing where the owner or alarm business shall have the right to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and to be represented by counsel.
(b) 
Such a hearing shall be informal and shall not be subject to the rules of evidence or formal courtroom procedure.
(6) 
If the Fire Chief or Police Superintendent affirms the appropriate enforcement official's orders, the owner or alarm business shall have 10 days after the written decision is mailed to the owner to comply with the order and shall also be responsible for any legal fees or costs incurred by the City in enforcement of this chapter. A final appeal to the Board of Alarm Commissioners pursuant to Subsection D is available.
(7) 
If the Fire Chief or Police Superintendent overturns the appropriate enforcement official's orders, the appeal fee will be returned to the owner or alarm business.
B. 
An owner or alarm business whose premises required authorized entry pursuant to § 96-6E shall be entitled to submit an initial appeal to the Fire Chief or Police Superintendent, as appropriate, as follows:
(1) 
The owner or alarm business shall file a written appeal within five days after the entry clearly stating:
(a) 
Why the alarm system was not a public nuisance at the time of the abatement; and/or
(b) 
That unnecessary damage was caused to the premises during the course of the abatement; and/or
(c) 
That the costs of the abatement should not be assessed to the owner or alarm business; and/or
(d) 
That the requirements of § 96-6 were not fulfilled.
(2) 
A Chief's appeal fee must accompany the appeal.
(3) 
During the appeal, the Fire Chief or Police Superintendent may decide to establish a fire watch or police detail at the premises, pursuant to § 96-8D, in order to ensure the public safety.
(4) 
The Fire Chief or Police Superintendent shall review the facts and circumstances and shall determine whether the owner or alarm business has shown good cause why the enforcement official's order should be withdrawn.
(a) 
The Fire Chief or Police Superintendent may request a hearing where the owner or alarm business shall have the right to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and to be represented by counsel.
(b) 
Such a hearing shall be informal and shall not be subject to the rules of evidence or formal courtroom procedure.
(5) 
If the Fire Chief or Police Superintendent overturns the appropriate enforcement official's orders:
(a) 
The owner or alarm business may be excused from paying for the costs of the abatement; and/or
(b) 
The City may reimburse the owner or alarm business for the repairs to the premises necessitated by the abatement; and
(c) 
The appeal fee will be returned to the owner or alarm business.
(6) 
If the Fire Chief or Police Superintendent affirms the appropriate enforcement official's orders, the owner or alarm business shall have 10 days after the written decision is mailed to the owner or alarm business to comply with the order and shall also be responsible for any legal fees or costs incurred by the City in enforcement of this chapter. A final appeal to the Board of Alarm Commissioners pursuant to Subsection D is available.
C. 
A Board of Alarm Commissioners totaling three individuals shall be appointed in the following manner:
(1) 
The Commissioners shall be appointed by the City Manager. One Commissioner shall be a present or former member of the Lowell Fire Department in good standing. Recommendations for this appointment shall be sought from the Fire Chief. One Commissioner shall be a present or former member of the Lowell Police Department in good standing. Recommendations for this appointment shall be sought from the Police Superintendent.
(2) 
In the initial appointment, one Commissioner shall be appointed for one year, one for two years, and one for three years, and all subsequent appointments shall be for three years so that the terms of the Commissioners are staggered so that one Commissioner's position shall be appointed every year.
(3) 
The Board's responsibilities shall include hearing final appeals from the findings of the initial appeal relative to actions, penalties, denials, suspensions and/or revocations of permits relative to this chapter.
(4) 
The Board shall have the power, upon review and for just cause, to set aside an initial appeal finding made relative to this chapter.
(5) 
The Board's ruling on all final appeals shall be final and binding on all parties concerned.
D. 
An owner or alarm business whose alarm system permit has been revoked pursuant to § 96-8B(1)(c), or whose alarm system has been deactivated or disconnected pursuant to § 96-8F, or whose premises required authorized entry pursuant to § 96-6F, and who has already submitted an initial appeal to the Fire Chief or Police Superintendent pursuant to Subsections A and B of this section shall be entitled to a final appeal to the Board of Alarm Commissioners as follows:
(1) 
The owner or alarm business shall file a written final appeal within five days of the decision made during the Fire Chief or Police Superintendent initial appeal regarding the order of revocation, deactivation, disconnection, or authorized entry, clearly stating the reasons why the Fire Chief's or Police Superintendent's initial appeal orders should be withdrawn.
(2) 
A Board of Alarm Commissioners appeal fee (see Appendix A, Service and Penalty Fees) must accompany the appeal.
(3) 
During the appeal, the Fire Chief or Police Superintendent may decide to establish a fire watch or police detail at the premises, pursuant to § 96-8D, in order to ensure the public safety.
(4) 
The Board of Alarm Commissioners shall consider the merits of the final appeal, review the facts and circumstances and determine whether the owner or alarm business has shown good cause why the Fire Chief's or Police Superintendent's order should be withdrawn.
(a) 
The Board of Alarm Commissioners may request a hearing where the owner or alarm business shall have the right to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and to be represented by counsel.
(b) 
Such a hearing shall be informal and shall not be subject to the rules of evidence or formal courtroom procedure.
(c) 
Any decision of the Board of Alarm Commissioners shall be by majority vote.
(5) 
The Board of Alarm Commissioners shall decide whether to affirm, vacate, or modify the appropriate enforcement official's orders. The owner or alarm business shall also be responsible for any legal fees or costs incurred by the City in enforcement of this chapter.
(6) 
If the Board of Alarm Commissioners overturns the appropriate enforcement official's orders, the Board of Alarm Commissioners appeal fee will be returned to the owner or alarm business.
Any information supplied to an enforcement official shall be held in confidence by all employees or representatives of the enforcement official, the Fire Department, the Police Department, the 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatch Center, and by any third party administrator or employees of a third party administrator with access to such information.
Registration of an alarm system is not intended to, nor will it, 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 indemnification as provided by law is retained. When registering an alarm system, the owner acknowledges that public safety personnel's response may be based on factors such as availability of units, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions, staffing/resource levels, and various other extenuating factors. The City of Lowell, its officers, employees and agents shall not assume any duty or responsibility for the installation, maintenance, operation, repair or effectiveness of any alarm system, whether in service or out of service, those duties or responsibilities being solely those of the owner of the premises.
The provisions of this chapter are severable. If a court determines a word, phrase, clause, sentence, paragraph, subsection, section, or other provision invalid or that the application of any part of the provision to any person or circumstance is invalid, the remaining provision and the application of those provisions to other persons or circumstances are not affected by that decision.