Town of Yarmouth, MA
Barnstable County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting of the Town of Yarmouth 5-4-2009 by Art. 34,[1] approved 8-24-2009. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[1]
Editors Note: This article also repealed former Ch. 101, Mechanical Protection Devices, adopted by the 10-24-1990 STM by Art. 10, approved 1-9-1991, as amended.
A. 
The purpose of this chapter is to encourage alarm users and alarm companies to properly use and maintain the operational effectiveness of alarm systems in order to improve the reliability of alarm systems and reduce or eliminate false alarms; and to establish a fee system to fairly allocate costs incurred by the Police Department in responding to false alarms.
B. 
This chapter governs alarm systems intended to summon a Yarmouth Police Department response, and requires licensing and registration, establishes fees, provides penalties for violations, establishes a system of administration, and sets conditions for suspension of police response or revocation of registration.
In this chapter, the following terms and phrases shall have the following meanings:
ALARM ADMINISTRATOR
A person or persons designated by the Police Chief to administer, control and review false alarm reduction efforts and administer the provisions of this chapter.
ALARM COMPANY
A person in the business of selling, providing, maintaining, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving or installing an alarm system in an alarm site.
ALARM DISPATCH REQUEST
A notification to the Police Department that an alarm, either manual or automatic, has been activated at a particular alarm site.
ALARM REGISTRATION
Authorization granted by the Alarm Administrator to an alarm user to operate an alarm system.
ALARM REGISTRATION NUMBER
A distinctive number issued for each alarm site when an alarm registration is granted.
ALARM SERVICE REGISTRATION
Registration of an alarm company to sell, install, monitor, repair or replace alarm systems.
ALARM SITE
A single, fixed premises or location served by an alarm system or systems. Each unit, if served by a separate alarm system in a multiunit building or complex, shall be considered a separate alarm site.
ALARM SYSTEM
A device or series of devices, including, but not limited to, hardwired systems and systems interconnected with a radio frequency method such as cellular or private radio signals, which emit or transmit a remote or local audible, visual or electronic signal indicating an alarm condition and intended to summon law enforcement response, including local alarm systems. "Alarm system" does not include an alarm installed in a vehicle or on someone's person unless the vehicle or the personal alarm is permanently located at a site.
ALARM USER
Any person, who (which) has contracted for monitoring, repair, installation or maintenance service from an alarm company or monitoring company for an alarm system, or who (which) owns or operates an alarm system that is not monitored, maintained or repaired under contract.
ALARM USER AWARENESS CLASS
A class conducted for the purpose of educating alarm users about the responsible use, operation, and maintenance of alarm systems and the problems created by false alarms.
ARMING STATION
A device that allows control of an alarm system.
AUTOMATIC VOICE DIALER
Any electrical, electronic, mechanical or other device capable of being programmed to send a prerecorded voice message, when activated, over a telephone line, radio or other communication system to a law enforcement, public safety or emergency services agency requesting dispatch.
CANCELLATION
The process where response is terminated when a monitoring company (designated by the alarm user) for the alarm site notifies the Police Department prior to the arrival of responding police unit(s) that there is not an existing situation at the alarm site requiring police response after an alarm dispatch request.
CARETAKER or GUEST
A person allowed to operate an alarm system.
CONVERSION
The transaction or process by which one alarm company or monitoring company begins the servicing and/or monitoring of a previously unmonitored alarm system or an alarm system previously serviced and/or monitored by another alarm company.
DURESS ALARM
A silent alarm system signal generated by the entry of a designated code into an arming station in order to signal that the alarm user is being forced to turn off the system and requires police response.
ELECTRICAL STORM
A weather condition where lightning is observed and/or thunder is audible in the immediate vicinity, including a period of 1/2 hour after the most recent lightning flash or thunder.
FALSE ALARM
An alarm dispatch request to the Police Department, when the responding officer finds no evidence of a criminal offense or attempted criminal offense after having completed a timely investigation of the alarm site.
HEARING OFFICER
A person appointed by the Chief of Police to act as an impartial arbitrator at hearings related to the enforcement of this chapter.
HEAVY SNOW EVENT
An accumulation of snow which, under prevailing conditions, brings down branches and/or wires interfering with telephone or electrical service.
HIGH WIND EVENT
A hurricane, tropical storm, northeaster or other weather condition generating wind gusts over 40 miles per hour.
HOLDUP ALARM
A silent alarm signal generated by the manual activation of a device intended to signal a robbery in progress.
LOCAL ALARM SYSTEM
Any alarm system, which is not monitored, that annunciates an alarm only at the alarm site.
MONITORING
The process by which a monitoring company receives signals from an alarm system and relays an alarm dispatch request to the Police Department for the purpose of summoning law enforcement to the alarm site.
MONITORING COMPANY
A person, firm or entity in the business of providing monitoring services.
PANIC ALARM
A signal generated by the manual activation of a device intended to signal a life-threatening or emergency situation requiring police response.
PERSON
An individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization or similar entity.
POLICE DEPARTMENT
The Yarmouth Police Department.
POWER OUTAGE
An interruption in electrical service affecting an identified area of the Town for any duration of time.
REGISTRATION PERIOD
A period of time, not to exceed two years from the date of issuance, as determined by the Alarm Administrator.
RESPONDER
An individual capable of reaching the alarm site within 25 minutes after notification and having access to the alarm site, the code to the alarm system and the authority to approve repairs to the alarm system.
REVOKE
To permanently rescind the registration of an alarm user or the alarm service registration of an alarm company, making them ineligible for applicable police responses.
TAKEOVER
The transaction or process by which an alarm user takes over control of an existing alarm system which was previously controlled by another alarm user.
VERIFY
An attempt by the monitoring company, or its representative, to contact the alarm site and/or alarm user by telephone and/or other electronic means, whether or not actual contact with a person is made, to determine whether an alarm signal is valid before requesting Police Department dispatch, in an attempt to avoid an unnecessary alarm dispatch request.
ZONES
Division of devices into which an alarm system is divided to indicate the general location from which an alarm system signal is transmitted.
A. 
No alarm user shall operate, or cause to be operated, an alarm system at its alarm site within the Town of Yarmouth without a valid alarm registration. A separate alarm registration is required for each alarm site.
B. 
An alarm registration form may be obtained at the Yarmouth Police Department facility or on the Police Department website.
C. 
The registration fee is to be paid by the alarm user. All fees are established and adjusted from time to time by the Board of Selectmen as shown on the Schedule of Alarm Fees.
D. 
No refund of a registration or registration renewal fee will be made. The initial alarm registration fee must be submitted to the Alarm Administrator within five business days after the alarm system installation or alarm system takeover.
E. 
Upon receipt of a completed alarm registration application form and the alarm registration fee, the Alarm Administrator shall register the applicant unless the applicant has:
(1) 
Failed to pay a fine or fee assessed under this chapter; or
(2) 
Had an alarm registration for the alarm site suspended or revoked, and the violation causing the suspension or revocation has not been corrected.
F. 
Upon issuing an alarm registration, the Alarm Administrator shall assign a registration number to each alarm site and provide the registration number to the applicant.
G. 
Each alarm registration application must include the following information:
(1) 
The name, complete address (including apartment/suite number) and telephone numbers of the person who will be the registration holder and be responsible for the proper maintenance and operation of the alarm system and payment of fees assessed under this chapter.
(2) 
The classification of the alarm site as either residential (includes apartment, condominium, etc.) or commercial.
(3) 
For each alarm system located at the alarm site, the classification of the alarm system (i.e., burglary, holdup, duress, panic alarms or other) and for each classification, whether such alarm is audible (capable of being heard at the alarm site) or silent (inaudible at the alarm site).
(4) 
Year-round billing address, if different from the address of the alarm site.
(5) 
Type of business conducted at a commercial alarm site.
(6) 
Signed certification from the alarm user stating the following:
(a) 
The name, address, and telephone number of the monitoring company.
(b) 
Confirming that the registrant understands that police response, or lack thereof, may be influenced by factors, including, but not limited to: the availability of police units, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions, staffing levels, etc.
(c) 
Establishing the registrant's legal obligation to pay all fees and fines resulting from the operation of the alarm system.
(7) 
Names and telephone numbers of at least two individuals, except in the case where the alarm or monitoring company provides the below services, who are able and agree to:
(a) 
Receive notification of an alarm system activation at any time.
(b) 
Respond to the alarm site within 25 minutes at any time and can grant access to the alarm site and deactivate the alarm system if necessary.
H. 
Any false statement of a material fact made by an applicant for the purpose of obtaining an alarm registration shall be sufficient cause for refusal to issue a registration.
I. 
An alarm registration cannot be transferred to another person or alarm site.
J. 
An alarm user shall inform the Alarm Administrator of any change that alters any of the information listed on the alarm registration application within five business days of such change.
K. 
All fines and fees owed by an applicant must be paid before an alarm registration may be issued or renewed.
A. 
An alarm registration shall be for a period not to exceed two years from the date of issuance, ending on December 31 of the second year. Registrations must be renewed by submitting an updated application and a registration renewal fee to the Alarm Administrator.
B. 
Notwithstanding the preceding paragraph, alarm registrations issued during the calendar year in which this chapter takes effect shall be valid until December 31 of the second full calendar year following the date of issuance.
C. 
A late fee of $10 shall be assessed if the registration renewal is more than 30 days past the date of expiration.
A. 
An alarm user shall be billed for and shall be financially responsible for all false alarm fees attributable to the alarm user's alarm site.
B. 
An alarm user shall:
(1) 
Maintain the alarm site and the alarm system in a manner that will minimize or eliminate false alarms.
(2) 
Have available a responder who can be at the alarm system's location within 25 minutes of notification by the Police Department or monitoring company in order to:
(a) 
Deactivate an alarm system; or
(b) 
Provide access to the alarm site.
(3) 
Provide current information on and notify the Alarm Administrator of any changes in information on the two required responders.
(4) 
Not activate an alarm system for any reason other than an occurrence of a crime or other event requiring a police response.
C. 
An alarm user shall adjust the mechanism or cause the mechanism to be adjusted so that an alarm signal audible on the exterior of an alarm site will sound for no longer than 10 minutes after being activated for each activation period. After three activations of a zone within an armed period, the zone must automatically shut down.
D. 
An alarm user shall not use automatic voice dialers.
E. 
An alarm user shall maintain at each alarm site a set of written operating instructions for each alarm system. A copy of the alarm operating instructions must be provided to each property user, caretaker and or guest.
F. 
The alarm user shall be billed for and shall be financially responsible for false alarm fees resulting from a power outage, electrical storm, high wind event, snow storm or fault of telephone company. As set forth in § 101-5.2, alarm companies are encouraged to give alarm user(s) an opportunity to indicate whether a dispatch notification should be cancelled during a power outage, electrical storm, heavy snow or high wind event,
G. 
The alarm user shall provide his/her alarm company with the alarm registration number assigned by the Administrator.
A. 
All alarm companies and monitoring companies doing business within the boundaries of the Town of Yarmouth shall apply for and receive an alarm service registration from the Town prior to engaging in business. Such alarm service registration shall be valid for a period of one year and must be annually renewed.
B. 
Alarm companies and monitoring companies licensed in the commonwealth with the DPL and/or DPS will not incur additional cost for the Service Registration and renewals. However, late fees and or fines shall apply.
C. 
The Alarm Administrator shall determine the requirements of alarm service registration applications.
D. 
It shall be a violation of this chapter if a monitoring company:
(1) 
Submits an alarm dispatch request to any alarm site while unlicensed; or
(2) 
Continues alarm dispatch requests to any alarm sites after notification by the Alarm Administrator that the company's license has been suspended or revoked.
A. 
An alarm company shall not use automatic voice dialers.
B. 
The Yarmouth Police Department will be notified of a new alarm user or alarm system on the date that the new alarm system has been activated.
C. 
The alarm company shall provide written and oral instructions to each alarm user in the proper use and operation of their alarm systems. Such instructions will specifically include all instructions necessary to turn the alarm system on and off and to avoid false alarms.
D. 
Alarm companies shall not program alarm systems so that they are capable of sending one plus duress alarms.
E. 
Single-action nonrecessed buttons to activate holdup alarms shall not be installed.
F. 
A monitoring company shall;
(1) 
Report alarm signals by using telephone numbers designated by the Alarm Administrator.
(2) 
Verify every alarm signal, except panic or holdup alarm activations, before requesting police response to an alarm system signal.
(3) 
In the event of panic or holdup alarm activation, the monitoring company shall not attempt to verify the alarm unless requested to do so by the Police Department.
(4) 
Communicate alarm dispatch requests to the Police Department in a manner and form determined by the Alarm Administrator.
(5) 
Communicate cancellations to the Police Department in a manner and form determined by the Alarm Administrator.
(6) 
Ensure that all alarm users of alarm systems equipped with duress, holdup or panic alarms are given adequate training as to the proper use of the duress, holdup or panic alarm.
(7) 
Communicate any available information (north, south, front, back, floor, etc.) about the location on all alarm signals related to the alarm dispatch request.
(8) 
Communicate type of alarm activation (silent or audible, interior or perimeter).
(9) 
Communicate the alarm registration Number at the time an alarm dispatch request is made.
(10) 
After an alarm dispatch request, promptly advise the Police Department if the monitoring company knows that the alarm user or the responder is on the way to the alarm site.
(11) 
Notify the alarm user or authorized representative within 24 hours via mail, fax, telephone or other electronic means when an alarm dispatch request is made.
G. 
Any dispute over reimbursement of false alarm fees is a civil matter between the alarm user and alarm company or monitoring company. The Police Department is not a party to any such dispute.
A. 
Alarm companies and monitoring companies are encouraged to establish a procedure whereby alarm users have an opportunity to indicate whether a Dispatch Request Notification should be cancelled during a:
(1) 
Power outage.
(2) 
Electrical storm.
(3) 
High wind event.
(4) 
Heavy snow event.
B. 
Alarm companies and monitoring companies using such procedure shall, when making an alarm dispatch request, cancel the alarm dispatch request as indicated by the alarm user when informed by the police dispatcher that one of the above conditions exists.
A. 
The Alarm Administrator shall:
(1) 
Designate a manner, a form and telephone numbers for the communication of alarm dispatch requests; and
(2) 
Establish a procedure to accept cancellation of alarm dispatch requests.
B. 
The Alarm Administrator shall establish a procedure to record such information on alarm dispatch requests necessary to permit the Alarm Administrator to maintain records, including, but not limited to, the information listed below:
(1) 
Identification of the registration number for the alarm site;
(2) 
Identification of the alarm site;
(3) 
Date and time alarm dispatch request was received, including the name of the monitoring company and the monitoring operator's name or number;
(4) 
Date and time of police officer arrival at the alarm site;
(5) 
Zone and zone description, if available;
(6) 
Name of alarm user's representative at alarm site, if any;
(7) 
Identification of the responsible alarm company or monitoring company;
(8) 
Whether the officer was unable to locate the address of the alarm site; and
(9) 
Cause of alarm signal, if known.
C. 
The Alarm Administrator may adjust the count of false alarms based on:
(1) 
Evidence that the alarm dispatch request was not a false alarm.
D. 
The Police Dispatcher shall notify an alarm company or monitoring company making an Alarm Dispatch Request when one or more of the following conditions exists:
(1) 
Power outage.
(2) 
Electrical storm.
(3) 
High wind event.
(4) 
Heavy snow event.
E. 
The Alarm Administrator may require alarm companies and/or monitoring companies to develop and administer alarm user awareness classes. These classes shall inform alarm users of the problems created by false alarms and teach alarm users how to avoid generating false alarms.
F. 
The Alarm Administrator will make a copy of this chapter and/or a bylaw summary sheet available to the alarm user upon registration, renewal or request.
G. 
The Alarm Administrator may exempt any governmental body, agency, or other entity from the fee requirements of this chapter.
A. 
Monitoring companies shall notify alarm users or their authorized representatives after each false alarm.
B. 
The Alarm Administrator will notify the alarm user and alarm company or monitoring company, in writing, after the police have made five false alarm responses to an alarm site. This notice will include reference to the provisions of § 101-8 regarding suspension of response after the seventh false alarm and state the amount of fees for each false alarm.
C. 
The Alarm Administrator will notify the alarm user and the alarm company or monitoring company, in writing, after the seventh false alarm response to an alarm site that, excepting duress, holdup and panic alarms, police response to the alarm site will be suspended at the expiration of the time for filing an appeal under § 101-10. This notice of suspension will include the amount of the fine for each false alarm and a description of the appeals procedure available to the alarm user and the alarm company or monitoring company.
A. 
Suspension of response shall be stayed until the expiration of the time for filing an appeal under § 101-10 or in the event that a timely appeal has been properly filed, until disposition of the appeal under § 101-10.
B. 
The Alarm Administrator may suspend police response to an alarm site ("no response" status), excepting duress, holdup and panic alarms, by suspending or revoking the alarm registration if it is determined that:
(1) 
The alarm user has seven or more false alarms within his or her registration period.
(2) 
There is a statement of a material fact known to be false in the application for a registration.
(3) 
The alarm user has failed to make timely payment of a fee or fine assessed under this chapter after a second notice has been sent to the billing address indicated on the alarm registration or, in the case of an unregistered alarm, to the tax billing address for the alarm site as kept in the Tax Collector's office.
C. 
Unless there is separate indication that there is a crime in progress, the Police Department shall refuse response to any nonduress, holdup or panic alarm dispatch request at an alarm site designated with "no response" status.
D. 
A person commits an offense if he/she operates an alarm system during the period in which the alarm registration is suspended or revoked and is subject to enforcement.
E. 
If the alarm registration is reinstated pursuant to § 101-11, the Alarm Administrator shall again suspend police response to the alarm site by again revoking the alarm registration if it is determined that three false alarms have occurred within six months after the reinstatement date.
A. 
An alarm user shall be charged a fee for each false alarm. Fees shall be established and adjusted from time to time by the Board of Selectmen and set forth in the Schedule of Alarm Fees.
B. 
During the first registration period of an alarm site (two years from the date of registration or the notice of activation of an alarm system from an alarm company), the Alarm Administrator shall waive the fee for the first two false alarm responses.
C. 
During any registration period, the Alarm Administrator may waive the fee for one additional false alarm response where the alarm company demonstrates that:
(1) 
Two consecutive false alarms within a thirty-day period result from the same fault or malfunction of the alarm system;
(2) 
The fault or malfunction has been corrected; and
(3) 
There is a reasonable explanation why the fault or malfunction was not corrected after the first false alarm.
D. 
If cancellation occurs prior to the Police Department arriving at the scene, this is not a false alarm for the purpose of fees, and no fee will be assessed.
E. 
Every Police Department response to a false duress, holdup or panic alarm at an alarm site in "no response" status is subject to an enhanced fee equaling the sum of the Registration fee and the false alarm fee.
A. 
Any person operating a nonregistered alarm system in violation of the provisions of § 101-3 shall be subject to a fine of $100 for each false alarm, in addition to any other fines or Fees.
B. 
The Alarm Administrator may waive this fine for a nonregistered system if the alarm user submits an application for alarm registration within five business days of notification of such violation.
C. 
Violations of any other provision of this chapter for which no fine is specifically provided shall be subject to a fine of $50 for the first offense and $100 for a second or subsequent offense.
A. 
Any alarm company or monitoring company doing business without a registration in violation of the provisions of § 101-5 shall be subject to a fine of not more than $300 per offense, in addition to any other fines.
B. 
A monitoring company shall be issued a fine of $100 for each violation of any other provision of § 101-5.1.
C. 
A monitoring company shall be issued a fine of $50 for each failure to verify alarm system signals, as specified in § 101-5.1.
D. 
With respect to an alarm company or monitoring company, the Alarm Administrator or Hearing Officer may take into consideration whether the company has engaged in a consistent pattern of violations and may suspend or revoke the registrations of such companies.
A. 
All fines imposed through this chapter shall be processed as a bylaw violation under MGL c. 40 § 21D.
B. 
All fees imposed under this chapter may be recovered by civil process brought by the Alarm Administrator or his/her designee.
A. 
If the Alarm Administrator denies the issuance, renewal or reinstatement of an alarm registration, or suspends or revokes an alarm service registration or alarm registration, the Alarm Administrator shall send written notice of the action and a statement of the right to an appeal to the affected applicant, alarm user, alarm company or monitoring company.
B. 
The alarm user, alarm company or monitoring company may appeal the suspension or revocation of an alarm registration to a Hearing Officer by setting forth, in writing, the reasons for the appeal within 20 business days after receipt of the fine or notice of revocation.
C. 
An alarm user or the alarm company or monitoring company may appeal the decision of the Alarm Administrator to a Hearing Officer as follows:
(1) 
The applicant, alarm user, alarm company or the monitoring company may file a written request for a review by paying an appeal fee of $20 and setting forth the reasons for the appeal within 20 business days after the date of notification of the decision from the Alarm Administrator.
(2) 
The Hearing Officer shall conduct a hearing within 30 days of the receipt of the request and consider the evidence by any interested person(s). The Hearing Officer shall make his/her decision on the basis of the preponderance of evidence presented at the hearing. The Hearing Officer must render a decision within 15 days after the date of the hearing. The Hearing Officer shall affirm or reverse the decision of the Alarm Administrator.
(3) 
Filing of a request for appeal shall stay the action by the Alarm Administrator revoking an alarm registration or requiring payment of a fine until the Hearing Officer has completed his/her review. If a request for appeal is not made within the period of 20 business days, the action of the Alarm Administrator is final.
A. 
A person whose alarm registration has been suspended or revoked may, at the discretion of the Alarm Administrator or the Hearing Officer, have the alarm registration reinstated by the Alarm Administrator or the Hearing Officer if the person:
(1) 
Submits a new application and pays a reinstatement fee of $25.
(2) 
Pays, or otherwise resolves, all outstanding fees and fines; and
(3) 
Submits a certification from an alarm company, stating that the alarm system has been inspected and repaired (if necessary) by the alarm company.
(4) 
Attended an alarm user awareness class or has been instructed by the alarm company on the proper use of the alarm system.
B. 
In addition, the Alarm Administrator may require one or more of the following as a condition to reinstatement:
(1) 
Proof that an employee of the alarm company or monitoring company caused the false alarm (in which case the false alarm shall not be counted against the user's total for the purpose of imposing a "no response" status, but the user shall still be responsible for the false alarm fee).
In the interest of public safety, all information contained in and gathered through the alarm registration applications and applications for appeals shall be held in confidence by all employees or representatives of the Town and by any third-party administrator or employees of a third-party administrator with access to such information.
A. 
Alarm registration 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 immunity as provided by law is retained. By applying for an alarm registration, the alarm user acknowledges that Police Department response, or lack thereof, may be influenced by factors such as: the availability of police units, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions, staffing levels and prior response history. The Police Department retains complete discretion to allocate its resources to serve the public at large.
B. 
No person may rely upon any expected response by the Yarmouth Police Department to any alarm site or system.
C. 
The Yarmouth Police Department does not have the ability, financial means or responsibility to secure and remain at the alarm site for an extended period of time (over 20 minutes). It is the responsibility of the resident, owner, authorized caretaker or alarm user to secure the property as is reasonably possible.
A. 
The provisions of this chapter are severable. If a court determines that a word, phrase, clause, sentence, paragraph, subsection, section or other provision is invalid or that the application of any part of the provision to any person or circumstance is invalid, the remaining provisions and the application of those provisions to other persons or circumstances are not affected by that decision.
B. 
Any bylaws in conflict herewith are hereby repealed to the extent of such conflict.