Town of Swansea, MA
Bristol County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of Swansea as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 12-16-1996 STM by Art. 9]
A. 
This bylaw shall apply to the installation, operation, and maintenance of all Commercial Fire Alarm Systems where the State Building Code or Massachusetts General Laws requires sprinkler systems, and/or fire alarm systems.
B. 
Fire Alarm Systems shall include systems connected to the main fire station by means of a Radio Master Box, or on a digital dial-up basis.
C. 
To the extent that these Rules and Regulations may be inconsistent with State or Federal Law, the State or Federal statute shall supersede this Bylaw. All questions regarding Fire Alarm Systems shall be resolved with the authority having jurisdiction (A.H.J.) before proceeding with construction.
FIRE ALARM SYSTEM MALFUNCTION
The transmittal of a fire alarm which is caused by improper installation of a fire alarm system, a mechanical defect, lack of maintenance, or other reason that will cause a fire alarm to sound, even though there is no actual fire or situation that reasonably could evolve into a fire.
FIRE ALARM SYSTEM OWNER
An individual or entity who owns the business or building with a fire alarm, or is responsible for the maintenance of a Fire Alarm System equipped to send fire alarms to the Swansea Fire Department, central station or an alarm receiving company.
FIRE ALARM SYSTEMS
Any heat activated, smoke activated, flame energy activated, or other such automatic device capable of transmitting a fire alarm signal to either the fire department, central station, or alarm monitoring company.
FIRE CHIEF
The Chief of the Swansea Fire Department.
RADIO MASTER BOX
A radio Transmitting box capable of transmitting a fire alarm signal to the Swansea Fire Department by zone and by radio waves.
RADIO MASTER BOX OWNER
The individual or entity who has his/her business fire alarm system is equipped to send fire alarm signals directly to the Swansea Fire Department.
A. 
As of the effective date of this bylaw, no alarm system or equipment designed to summon the fire department shall be installed without first obtaining a fire alarm permit signed by the Fire Chief or his designee. Existing alarm systems must obtain a permit within three months of the effective date of this bylaw. The Fire Chief shall prescribe an application form for the alarm permits and may impose other rules as may be necessary for the connection to the municipal Fire Alarm System shall be obtained from the Fire Chief or his designee. The fee for each alarm permit shall be $10. The approval requirement shall include municipal radio master box connection and digital dial-up devices.
B. 
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.
C. 
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 year from the effective date of this bylaw. New applications for voice-type tape systems will not be approved.
D. 
Actual connection to the Swansea Fire Department's alarm console by radio master box or digital dial-up will be made by the Town's designated Alarm Contractor, or Fire Alarm Division personnel. The connection fee for each alarm system shall be established by the Board of Selectmen.
E. 
The Town will make every attempt to insure the proper operation of the alarm receiving equipment, but accepts no liability for conditions which prevent proper reception of signals for the user's premises.
F. 
This approval requirement shall include municipal connection, radio master box, and digital dial-up devices.
G. 
All sprinkler systems shall have a water flow alarm with a direct connection to the Swansea Fire Department.
H. 
Sprinkler systems and valves, including back flow preventors, shall be provided with tamper proof protection as directed by the Fire Chief. Devices designed to detect tampering shall be tied into the municipal fire alarm system.
A. 
The Swansea Fire Department will receive a set of professionally drawn blueprints prior to any building permit being issued by the Building Inspector.
B. 
The prints will include a complete sprinkler system and riser diagram and/or a complete fire detection system diagram.
C. 
The prints will include the fire alarm annunciator as well as the radio master box.
D. 
A letter on official company stationary will accompany each set of blueprints or plan. Said letter will state that the system meets or exceeds all applicable State and Local codes and N.F.P.A. Standards.
E. 
Estimated installation dates and final acceptance dates are required. Submittal will include manufacturer's specification sheets.
F. 
Any deviation from the plan will be documented in writing and approved by the Fire Chief or his designee.
G. 
There will be a $25 plan review fee.
H. 
The A.H.J. assumes no responsibility for items omitted on the blueprints but required by code or this document. Final approval is given only after completion of all aspects of this Agreement and is signified by the signing off of the Swansea Fire Department's section of the building occupancy permit, or the final fire alarm acceptance.
Whenever an alarm system or equipment is disconnected, removed, or substantially altered, the owner or user shall notify the Swansea Fire Department in writing so that an appropriate notation may be made on the permit. An approval by the head of the Swansea Fire Department is required before any work is started.
A. 
Each alarm user shall submit to the Fire Chief the names, addresses and telephone numbers of two 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. In addition, each control panel shall have located inside the door the above information and also the name of the company and phone numbers of the company who currently services the system.
B. 
Written instructions shall be clearly visible for resetting a fire alarm control panel, on or near the unit. Permission to attempt a system reset must be on file with the Swansea Fire Department if the user wishes Department to reset the control unit. If after three attempts a system will not reset, the zone, or if necessary, the 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. The Town also assumes no liability for alarms or zones that are taken out of service.
C. 
Any building which has a fire alarm system or other fire protection system or other fire protection system shall provide a "Knox Box" brand secured key box installed in a location of the exterior of the building accessible to the Swansea Fire Department in case of emergency. This key box shall contain keys to the facility, the 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 Swansea Fire Department and shall be located and installed as approved by the Chief. Only the Fire Chief, the Deputy Fire Chief or his designee shall have the keys to each key box, and the key box itself shall be alarmed. Right to know documents may require a Knox vault.
D. 
All premises shall have their legal street number clearly visible as per existing Town Bylaw,[1] prior to connection of any alarm to the Swansea Fire Department.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 133, Buildings and Building Construction, § 133-1.
E. 
There shall be a building graphic located at the fire alarm panel showing zone information and location for arriving firefighters. The graphic will meet with the approval of the Fire Chief.
F. 
Each fire alarm panel will have zone information clearly and permanently affixed to the fire alarm box. This will not be necessary with addressable systems approved by the A.H.J.
A. 
No alarm system designed to transmit emergency messages or signals directly to the Swansea Fire Department shall be worked on, tested or demonstrated without obtaining permission from the Swansea Fire Chief.
B. 
A completed system accuracy test will be conducted on the entire system before the occupancy permit is issued by the Building Inspector.
C. 
No work shall be performed on a fire alarm system or a sprinkler system without first obtaining a permit from the Swansea Fire Department.
A. 
The Swansea Fire Department shall assess an annual fee, set by the Board of Selectmen, for the continuous monitoring of each alarm system.
B. 
Every alarm now connected to the Swansea Fire Department on the effective date of this law shall pay an annual monitoring fee as determined by the Board of Selectmen.
C. 
All fees are to be deposited in a revolving account for the express purpose of maintenance and capital improvement of Public Safety alarm circuits, equipment and labor necessary to maintain said Town alarm system. Said revolving account shall be subject to the requirements of MGL c. 44, § 53E 1/2.
D. 
Billing period will be from January 1st to December 31st.
A. 
If there is a fire alarm malfunction as defined herein, Fire Chief may assess a fine against a fire alarm system owner for each malfunction per calendar year starting January 1st and ending December 31st.
B. 
The following schedule shall apply and shall be reviewed annually by the Board of Selectmen:
First through Third
No Charge
Fourth and Fifth
$40 each
Sixth and Seventh
$100 each
Eighth through Tenth
$150 each
Eleventh and each one thereafter
$300 each
(1) 
Single family residential alarms are exempt
(2) 
Weather related activations are exempt
C. 
Fire alarm systems connected to the Swansea Fire Department or by other automatic means, or through a central station, or an alarm monitoring company are subject to this section.
D. 
Any fire alarm which is the result of the failure of the property owner, occupants, or agents to notify the Swansea Fire Department of repairs, maintenance, or testing of the integral fire alarm system within the protected premises.
E. 
The operation of a faulty smoke or heat detection device.
F. 
Faulty control panel or associated equipment.
G. 
A water pressure surge in automatic sprinkler equipment.
H. 
An action of the owner or employee, or occupant of the protected premises, or a contractor employed by the owner or occupant, causing an accidental activation of he internal fire alarm system.
I. 
Property owner will be billed once a month for the previous month's malfunctions.
J. 
Any fire alarm owner who is aggrieved by an action taken by the Fire Chief under this bylaw may within 10 days of such action file an appeal in writing to the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Swansea. The Board shall render a decision and notify the owner by first class mail within 10 days of the hearing. The decision of the Board shall be the final administrative hearing. The owner shall have 30 days from the date of the written decision to seek judicial review in the District Court.
A. 
In order to protect and enhance public safety by reducing the risk of fire hazards, the provisions of the Code of Massachusetts Regulation 527 C.M.R. 1.00 to 50.00, as from time to time amended, are hereby incorporated in and made part of this bylaw and any violation of any provision thereof shall constitute a violation of this section.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: See now the Massachusetts Comprehensive Fire Safety Code, which adopts by reference the NFPA 1 Fire Code (See CMR Title 527).
B. 
Whoever violates any provision of § 105-10 shall be punished by a fine of $50 for each offense. In the case of continuing violations, each day said violation continues shall constitute a separate offense. Said Section shall be enforceable by the Chief of the Fire Department or his authorized designee, as well as by Town Officers having police powers.
C. 
The marshal, the Chief of the Fire Department or any person to whom the marshal or the Chief of the Fire Department may delegate his authority in writing may, and upon complaint of a person having an interest in any building or premises or property adjacent thereto, shall, at any reasonable hour, enter into buildings and upon premises, which term for the purposes of the remainder of this section shall include alleys adjacent thereto, within their jurisdiction and make an investigation as to the existence of conditions likely to cause fire. They shall, in writing, order such conditions to be remedied, and whenever such officers or persons find in any building or upon any premises any accumulation of combustible rubbish including, but not limited to, waste paper, rags, sticks, waste leather or rubber, broken boxes or barrels or any other refuse or useable materials that is or may become dangerous as a fire menace or as an obstacle to easy ingress into or egress from such buildings or premises, they shall, in writing, order the same to be removed or such conditions to be remedied. Notice of such authorized agent by a member of the Fire or Police Department. If said order is not compiled within 24 hours, the person making such order, or any person designated by him, may enter into such building or upon such premises and remove such refuse or any useable materials or abate such conditions at the expense of such owner or occupant. Any expense so incurred by or on behalf of the commonwealth or of any city or town, shall be a lien upon such building or premises, effective upon the filing in the proper registry of deeds of a claim thereof signed by such person and setting forth the amount for which the lien is claimed; and the lien shall be enforced within the time and in the manner provided for the collection of taxes upon real estate. Any such owner or occupant who fails or refuses to comply with said order shall be punished by a fine of not more than $50. For each day the non-compliance continues shall constitute a separate offense.
A. 
The Fire Chief may suspend or revoke an alarm permit for just cause in accordance with the following procedure:
(1) 
The Fire Chief or his designee shall issue to the permit holder a written notice, by certified mail, of his intent to suspend or revoke the alarm permit. Notice will include the date of intended suspension or revocation, the reason for the suspension or revocation, and notice that the permit holder is entitled to a hearing upon written request.
(2) 
Upon receipt of a notice of suspension or revocation, the permit holder may, within five working days of receipt, submit a written request for a hearing before the Fire Chief or his designee thereof. At the hearing, the permit holder shall have the right to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses and be represented by counsel. The hearing shall be informal and shall not be subject to rules of evidence or formal courtroom procedure. After the hearing, the hearing officer may issue a written order of suspension or revocation for a given period of time. He may also withdraw any previous order of suspension or revocation.
(3) 
During the appeal period, the alarm system may remain in operation.
(4) 
An alarm owner or user whose permit has been suspended or revoked may re-apply for a new permit after the suspension period is over.
B. 
An alarm user wishing to appeal a decision of the Fire Chief may within 15 calendar days of any fee assessment or permit suspension or revocation, request in writing a hearing with the Board of Selectmen.
The following acts and omissions shall constitute a violation of these regulations. The responsible person or party shall be punished by a fine of not less than $50 per offense as follows. Each day in which a violation occurs may be considered a separate offense.
A. 
Failure to follow an order issued by the Fire Chief to disconnect an alarm system from the municipal radio box, or to disable a telephone dialer arranged to dial the digital alarm console or the special alarm telephone numbers.
B. 
One year after the effective date of these regulations, using a telephone dialing device arranged to dial a Swansea Fire Department number without authorization under this bylaw.
C. 
Failure to pay two or more consecutive fees assessed under § 105-9 of these regulations, within 60 days from the date of the second assessment.
D. 
Failure to comply with the requirements set forth in §§ 105-3 through 105-10 of these regulations.
E. 
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 effort is made to correct the condition.
The provisions of this ordinance are severable. If any provision of this ordinance or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, such invalidity shall not affect the remaining provisions or applications of this ordinance.
[Adopted 3-15-2004 STM by Art. 20]
It is determined that the number of false alarms being made to the Swansea Police Department hinders the efficiency and lowers department morale. This situation constitutes a danger to the general public, homeowners, businesses and the police. The adoption of this bylaw will reduce the number of false alarms and promote responsible use of alarm devices in the Town of Swansea.
A. 
The term "Burglar Alarm System" means an assembly of equipment and devices or a single device such as a solid state unit which plugs directly into a 110 Volt AC line or low voltage transformer, arranged to signal the presence of a hazard requiring urgent attention and to which police are expected to respond. Fire alarm systems and alarm systems which monitor temperature, smoke, humidity or any other condition not directly related to the detection of an unauthorized intrusion into a premise or an attempted robbery at a premise are specifically excluded from the provisions of this bylaw. The provisions of § 105-20 of this bylaw shall apply to all users.
B. 
The term "User" or "System User" means any person who owns or leases an alarm system as provided in this article. The system user shall be responsible for all penalties that may be assessed under § 105-20 of this article.
C. 
The term "False Alarm" means (a) the activation of an alarm system through mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation or negligence of the user of an alarm system or his employees or agents; (b) any signal or automatic dialing device 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, robbery or burglary, or attempted threat. For the purposes of this definition, activation of alarms systems by acts of God including, but not limited to power outages, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and similar weather or atmospheric disturbances shall not be deemed to be a false alarm.
D. 
The term "automatic dialing device" refers to an alarm system which automatically sends over regular telephone lines, by direct connection or otherwise, a pre-recorded voice message or coded signal indicating the existence of the emergency situation that the alarm system is designed to detect.
No alarm device or system shall be connected to, or use, any telephone line in the police department, except those lines authorized by the Chief of Police.
A. 
The Chief of Police is hereby authorized to require the registration of all burglar alarm systems.
B. 
All presently existing burglar alarm system users shall be required to register the system within 60 days of enactment of this article. Registration forms will be available at the Police Department.
C. 
Any person who owns or operates a burglar alarm device or system shall, as part of the registration procedure, submit to the Chief of Police the names, addresses and telephone numbers of at least two other persons who are authorized to respond, after notification by the Police Department, to an emergency signal transmitted by an alarm system and who can open the premises wherein the alarm system is installed. It shall be incumbent upon the owner of said premises to immediately notify the Swansea Police Department of any changes in the list of authorized employees or other persons to respond to alarms.
D. 
Self-contained battery operated devices not utilizing an exterior sounder or not connected to elicit a police response need not be registered under this article.
A. 
All alarm systems installed after the effective date of this bylaw which use an audible siren, horn or bell shall be equipped with a device that will shut off such bell, horn or siren within 15 minutes after activation of the alarm system. All existing alarm systems in the Town of Swansea must have a shut-off device installed within six months of passage of this bylaw.
B. 
Any alarm system emitting a continuous and uninterrupted signal for more than 15 minutes between 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. or which continually sounds without legitimate cause during or which continually sounds without legitimate cause during this time period, 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 § 105-17C, and which disturbs the peace, comfort or repose of a community, a neighborhood or a considerable number of inhabitants of the area where the alarm system is located, shall constitute a public nuisance. Upon receiving complaints of continuous or frequent signals, the Police Department shall endeavor to contact the alarm user, or members of the user's family, or those persons designated by the alarm user in § 105-17C, in an effort to abate the nuisance. The Police Chief shall cause to be recorded the names and addresses of all complainants and the time of each complaint was made.
C. 
No alarm system which is designated to transmit emergency messages or signals of intrusion to the Police Department will be tested until the Police Dispatcher has been notified.
D. 
The user of an alarm system shall be subject to the provisions of § 105-20 for all intentional false alarms caused by the user, his family, employees, or agents.
E. 
The provisions of this bylaw shall not apply to alarm devices or premises owned or controlled by the Town, nor to alarm devices installed in a motor vehicle or trailer.
F. 
For a third false alarm in any calendar year, the Police Chief, shall send a written order to the subscriber instructing them to:
(1) 
Have the alarm system inspected by an Alarm Company.
(2) 
Review alarm procedures with all employees (if the premise is a business) or members of the household (if the premise is a residence).
(3) 
Within five days after this order is sent, the subscriber shall forward to the Chief of Police proof that the alarm system has been inspected and is in good working order.
(4) 
At the third false alarm in any calendar year, the Police, shall send a written notice to the subscriber notifying them that a subsequent false alarm within the calendar year will be considered a nuisance alarm violation.
Each subscriber is required to maintain all components of their alarm system in good working order at all times to ensure that the sensory mechanism is adjusted to suppress false indications of hold-ups or intrusions of fire or smoke conditions so that the alarm system will not be activated by impulses due to short flashes of light, wind, noise, vehicular noise or other forces unrelated to genuine alarms.
A. 
The user shall be assessed the below listed fines as a false alarm service fee for each false alarm in excess of three occurring within a calendar year:
4th False Alarm:
$50
5th False Alarm:
$60
6th and subsequent False Alarms:
$70
(1) 
The Police Chief shall notify the alarm user either by certified mail or by service in hand by a Police Officer of such violation and said user shall submit payment within 15 days of said notice to the Town of Swansea for deposit to the general fund.
B. 
Appeal of assessment charges must be made in writing to the Chief of Police within 30 days of the assessment notice.
C. 
The Police Chief may waive any of the assessments stated in this section if circumstances warrant such waiver. Reasons for such waiver must be attached to the penalty notice and duly signed by the Chief of Police
D. 
The user of a system which occasions six or more false alarms within a calendar year or fails to pay the fine after said notice, may be ordered to disconnect and otherwise discontinue the use of the same by the Board of Selectmen after a public hearing.