Town of Southwick, MA
Hampden County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Annual Town Meeting 5-16-2006 by Art. 19. Amendments noted where applicable.]

§ 102-1 Definitions.

For the purpose of this bylaw, certain words and phrases shall be construed as defined in this article.
ALARM ADMINISTRATOR
The person designated to administer, control, and review alarm applications, registrations, and alarm dispatch requests. The Chief of Police shall be the Alarm Administrator unless otherwise designated.
ALARM BUSINESS
The business, by an individual, partnership, corporation or other entity, of selling, leasing, maintaining, servicing, repairing, altering, replacing, moving, installing or monitoring an alarm system in an alarm site.
ALARM DISPATCH REQUEST
A notification to the Emergency Dispatch that an alarm, either manual or automatic, has been activated at a particular alarm site.
ALARM SITE
A single premises or location served by an alarm system or systems. Each tenancy, if served by a separate alarm system in a multi-tenant building or complex, shall be considered a separate alarm site.
ALARM SYSTEM
A device or series of devices, including, but not limited to, systems interconnected with radio frequency signals, which are designed to discourage crime, signify fire or medical emergency by emitting or transmitting a remote or local audible, visual or electronic signal indicating an alarm condition. Alarm system does not include:
A. 
An alarm installed on a vehicle unless the vehicle is permanently located at site; or
B. 
An alarm designed to alert only the inhabitants of a premises that does not have a sound device, which can be heard on the exterior of the alarm site.
ALARM USER
Any person, firm, partnership, corporation or other entity, which uses an alarm system at its alarm site.
CHIEF
The Chief of Police of the Town or the Chief's authorized representative.
FALSE ALARM DISPATCH
An alarm dispatch request to the police or fire department, where responding officers find no evidence of a criminal offense or attempted criminal offense or fire or medical emergency after having completed a timely investigation of the alarm site. An alarm dispatch request that is cancelled by the alarm business or the alarm user prior to the dispatch of the responding personnel shall not be considered a false alarm dispatch.
PERSON
An individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization or other legal entity.
TAKEOVER
The transaction or process by which an alarm user takes over control of an existing alarm system that was previously controlled by another alarm user.
VERIFY
An attempt, by the alarm business, or its representative, to contact the alarm site by telephone or other electronic means, whether or not actual contact with a person is made, before requesting an emergency dispatch, in an attempt to avoid an unnecessary alarm dispatch request.

§ 102-2 Registration requirements.

A. 
Notwithstanding the foregoing, a smoke detector system required by State Building and Fire Codes shall not be deemed an alarm system requiring registration as contemplated herein. No alarm user shall operate, or cause to be operated, an alarm system without first registering in accordance with this bylaw. A separate registration is required for each alarm site.
B. 
Registration shall be valid until ownership of the alarm site changes.
C. 
The application form for registration of an alarm site shall be prescribed by the Alarm Administrator and shall include the following information:
(1) 
The name, address, and telephone number of the alarm user who will be responsible for the proper maintenance and operation of the alarm system and the payment of fees assessed under this bylaw.
(2) 
The name, address, and telephone number of the alarm business monitoring the alarm system.
(3) 
The application shall contain the name, address and telephone number of at least two other persons who are authorized to respond to a signal transmitted by the alarm system within 20 minutes under normal weather conditions and who are authorized to open the premises on which the alarm system is installed.
(4) 
The application shall contain a waiver of liability from the alarm user if the Town of Southwick Police or Fire Department has to forcibly enter the registered premises in order to respond to such an alarm.
(5) 
Any other information that enhances the efficiency of administering this bylaw.
(6) 
That all current alarm users shall submit applications within 90 days following the adoption of this bylaw.
D. 
Registration of an alarm under this bylaw cannot be transferred to another person. If an alarm site is sold or transferred to another, the application process for a new alarm user must be followed. An alarm user shall inform the Alarm Administrator, in writing, of any change that alters any information listed on the permit application within five business days of such change.
E. 
An application for registering an alarm site shall be processed in a timely manner by the Alarm Administrator. The application shall be denied if the applicant has failed to pay any fine assessed for violating this bylaw, or if the applicant has knowingly made any false, misleading or fraudulent statements of a material fact in the application.

§ 102-3 Alarm system operation and maintenance.

A. 
An alarm user shall:
(1) 
Maintain the alarm site and the alarm system in a manner that will minimize or eliminate false alarm dispatches.
(2) 
Respond or cause a representative to respond to the alarm site within 20 minutes under normal weather conditions who can provide access to the premises on which the private intrusion fire or medical emergency alarm device is installed, who can allow personnel access to the alarm site to investigate, who can deactivate a malfunctioning alarm system and provide security for the alarm site.
(3) 
Not manually activate an alarm for any reason other than an occurrence of any event that the alarm system was intended to report.
(4) 
Not cause any alarm system to be connected directly to the emergency dispatch at the police department by any means including an automatic dialer.
(5) 
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 15 minutes after being activated.
B. 
If the Alarm Administrator has reason to believe that an alarm system is not being used or maintained in a manner that ensures proper operation and suppresses false alarms, the Alarm Administrator may require a conference with the Fire Department and alarm user to review the circumstances of each false alarm.

§ 102-4 Monitoring procedures.

A. 
The Town of Southwick will not act as an alarm business or permit installation of any alarm system monitoring devices within the police station or emergency dispatch area. By July 1, 2006, all alarm systems except those owned by the Town of Southwick or its subdivisions will be removed from the police station or emergency dispatch area and monitored privately.
B. 
An alarm business performing monitoring services shall:
(1) 
Report alarm signals by using telephone numbers designated by the Alarm Administrator;
(2) 
Attempt to verify every alarm signal, except a hold up alarm activation, before requesting a police or fire/ems response to an alarm signal;
(3) 
Communicate alarm dispatch requests to the Town in a manner and form determined by the Alarm Administrator;
(4) 
Communicate verified cancellations of alarm dispatch requests to the Town in a manner and form determined by the Alarm Administrator; and

§ 102-5 Fines and penalties for violations.

A. 
An alarm user shall be subject to fines or warnings depending on the number of false alarm dispatches emitted from an alarm system within a twelve-month period beginning January first each year, based upon the following schedule:
Number of False Alarm Dispatches
Fine
1-3
$0.00
4 or more
$25.00 each dispatch
B. 
Any person operating an alarm system who has not registered in accordance with this bylaw shall be subject to an additional fine of $300 for each violation after one initial warning.
C. 
An alarm dispatch request caused by actual criminal offense, or with evidence of a criminal attempt, or resulting solely from power outages or extreme weather conditions shall not be counted as a false alarm dispatch.
D. 
Intentional causing of a false private intrusion, fire alarm or medical emergency shall be considered a serious issue resulting in a fine of $300.
E. 
Any person who has neglected any fee or fine due as the result of this bylaw may have said fee or fines added to the Town of Southwick municipal tax bill for the property where the alarm system involved is located.
F. 
An alarm user can appeal a false alarm determination to the Board of Selectmen within 10 days of the actual event.

§ 102-6 Police and fire response.

A. 
Unless there is a separate indication that there is a crime in progress, the Chief of Police or officer-in-charge of the shift may refuse police response to an alarm dispatch request at an alarm site for which there has been a previous response on the same date. Not withstanding the foregoing, the fire department will respond to any fire alarm or medical emergency.

§ 102-7 Enforcement.

A. 
The Treasurer-Tax Collector, upon authorization by the Board of Selectmen, shall institute civil proceedings to enforce the collection provisions of this bylaw.
B. 
Any police officer of the Town may utilize the noncriminal disposition procedure set forth in the Code of the Town of Southwick[1] or may file an application for a criminal complaint with the Trial Court of the Commonwealth, District Court that has jurisdiction to enforce such a complaint issued under this bylaw.
[1]
Editor's Note: See Ch. 1, General Provisions, § 1-6.

§ 102-8 No assumption of liability or responsibility for alarm systems.

A. 
Notwithstanding the provisions of this article, the Town, its departments, officers, agents and employees, shall be under no obligation whatsoever concerning the adequacy, operation, or maintenance of any alarm system or alarm system monitoring facilities of private contractors or within the police station or emergency dispatch area.

§ 102-9 General provisions.

A. 
Except as otherwise required by law, the information furnished and secured pursuant to this bylaw shall be confidential in character, shall not be subject to public inspection and shall be kept so that the contents thereof shall not be known except to persons charged with the administration of this bylaw.
B. 
Municipal departments of the Town of Southwick are exempt from fees required by this bylaw.
C. 
The provisions of this bylaw are separable, and if any article, section or subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this bylaw is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional by the decision of any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this bylaw.
D. 
Any fine issued under this bylaw shall be paid to the general fund for the Town of Southwick.