City of Melrose, MA
Middlesex County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Aldermen of the City of Melrose 12-2-1991 by Ord. No. 1795A. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of this chapter is to reduce the number of false alarms and to promote the responsible use of alarm devices in the City of Melrose.
For the purpose of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:
ALARM DEVICE
Any device which, when activated by a criminal act, fire or other emergency calling for Police or Fire Department response, transmits a signal to Police or Fire Department headquarters, transmits a signal to a person who relays information to Police or Fire Department headquarters or produces an audible or visible signal to which the Police or Fire Department is expected to respond. Excluded from this definition and the scope of this chapter are devices which are designated to alert or signal only persons within the premises in which the device is installed and devices which are activated by the release of water from a sprinkler system.
ALARM USER
The owner of any premises on which an alarm device is used, provided that an occupant who expressly accepts responsibility for an alarm device by registration pursuant to § 89-7 shall be deemed the alarm user.
APPROPRIATE ADMINISTRATOR
The employee(s) or agent(s) of the Fire Department or Police Department, or both, who is designated the responsibilities as set forth in this chapter.
[Added 6-3-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-156]
AUTOMATIC DIAL ALARM
A telephone device or attachment that mechanically or electrically selects a telephone line to police or fire headquarters and produces a prerecorded voice message to report a criminal act, fire or other emergency calling for Police or Fire Department response. Excluded from this definition are devices which relay a digital-coded signal to police or fire headquarters.
CONTRACTOR
Any firm or corporation in the business of supplying and installing alarm devices or servicing the same.
FALSE ALARM
Any activation of an alarm device to which the Police Department or Fire Department responds and which is not caused by a criminal act, fire or other emergency, except an activation caused by malfunction of telephone company equipment or lines as verified by monitoring facilities at police or fire headquarters or power failure as verified by the administrators. A series of such activations attributable to the same cause and occurring under circumstances beyond the control of the responsible alarm user shall be deemed a single false alarm.
There shall be in the City an Alarm Appeal Officer who shall have the powers and duties granted to him/her under this chapter. The Alarm Appeal Officer shall be the City Auditor.
All information in the possession of the administrators, the Police Department or Fire Department concerning particular alarm users and particular alarm devices shall be confidential and shall not be divulged without the written consent of the alarm user or users concerned.
A. 
No automatic dial alarm may be installed after the effective date of this chapter without the prior approval of the appropriate administrator. Within six months after the effective date of this chapter, all automatic dial alarms presently in use shall be reprogrammed to dial a designated number within the Police or Fire Department. The automatic dial alarm shall be regulated so as not to repeat the message more than two times. Service for having automatic dial alarms reprogrammed and regulated shall be at the expense of the user.
B. 
The Chief of Police, or his or her designee, may adopt, publish and amend, from time to time, rules and regulations for the Police Department's direct monitoring of automatic dial alarm systems to, and the use by owners and occupants of, residential and commercial buildings, and at such owners' and occupants' cost. Such regulations shall include the collection procedures for the monthly, quarterly and/or annual monitoring fee paid by the user to the Police Department, which monitoring fee shall equal $10 per month for one-family to four-family residential buildings and $12 per month for all other buildings. The provisions of § 89-11 shall expressly apply to this subsection.
[Added 6-3-2013 by Ord. No. 2013-156; amended 8-21-2017 by Ord. No. 2018-4]
[Added 9-17-2007 by Ord. No. 07-160]
The alarm system for fire detection or suppression installed in new construction or remodeled buildings for commercial use is required to have a fire detection alarm system that is electrically connected to the Fire Department as set forth by the Chief of the Fire Department or his/her designee. All new construction buildings for residential use that are not owner occupied and are of four or more dwelling units in size are required to install an alarm system for fire detection or suppression that is electrically connected to the Fire Department as set forth by the Chief of the Fire Department or his/her designee. Any residential use building of four or more dwelling units is required to install an alarm system for fire detection or suppression that is electrically connected to the Fire Department when a building permit is issued to enlarge the interior square footage of the building or for any building upgrade of more than 25% of the assessed value of the building as set forth by the Chief of the Fire Department or his/her designee.
Unless required by law, no alarm device which produces an exterior audible signal shall be installed unless its operation is automatically restricted to a maximum of 15 minutes. Any alarm device in use as of the effective date of this chapter must comply with this section within 180 days of such date.
[Amended 3-17-2008 by Ord. No. 08-182]
A. 
When the Police Department or Fire Department has responded to a false alarm, the appropriate administrator shall impose a charge on the responsible alarm user according to the following schedule:
(1) 
For the first two false alarms: no charge.
(2) 
For the third alarm: $50.
(3) 
For the fourth and subsequent false alarms: $100 each.
B. 
There shall be no charge for the first alarm occurring within one month after installation of an alarm device, and such false alarm shall not be considered in determining charges in accordance with the schedule set forth herein.
C. 
On or before July 1 of each calendar year, each responsible alarm user shall register his or her alarm with the Melrose Police Department, on a form approved by the Chief of Police. Any responsible alarm user who installs an alarm after July 1 of any calendar year shall register said alarm with the Melrose Police Department within 30 days of installation. Additionally, where change of ownership in property has occurred after July 1, the new owner shall register the alarm in his or her name within 30 days of assuming ownership. In the event a responsible alarm user does not register his or her alarm on or before July 1, or within 30 days after installation or assumption of ownership, a fine of $50 will be assessed against the responsible alarm user.
[Amended 3-17-2008 by Ord. No. 08-182; 8-21-2017 by Ord. No. 2018-4]
The appropriate administrator shall notify the responsible alarm user of any false alarm charge by mail within 45 days. After the mailing of such notice, the alarm user may file with the appropriate administrator information to show that the alarm was not a false alarm within the meaning of this chapter. The appropriate administrator shall consider such information, reaffirm or rescind the false alarm charge and notify the alarm user of his/her decision by mail. Within 30 days after the mailing of such notice, the alarm user may file a written appeal with the Alarm Appeal Officer.
[Amended 3-17-2008 by Ord. No. 08-182; 8-21-2017 by Ord. No. 2018-4]
Upon receipt of a timely appeal from a false alarm charge, the Alarm Appeal Officer shall hold a hearing to consider the same and shall mail notice of the time and place of said hearing to the alarm user making the appeal at his/her last known address at least 15 days before the hearing. On the basis of information provided by the alarm user and other information introduced at the hearing, the Alarm Appeal Officer shall affirm the charge if he/she finds that the charge was properly imposed or rescind the charge if the charge was not properly imposed. Each notice of a false alarm charge or the reaffirmation of such a charge by the appropriate administrator shall refer to and provide instructions concerning the alarm user's rights to further recourse by filing information with the administrator(s) or an appeal to the Alarm Appeal Officer, as the case may be.
Charges for false alarms and appeal fees will be collected by the administrators and deposited in the general fund.
Notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter, the City, its departments, officers, agents and employees shall be under no obligation whatsoever concerning the adequacy, operation or maintenance of any alarm device or of the alarm monitoring facilities at police and fire headquarters. No liability whatsoever is assumed for the failure of such alarm devices or monitoring facilities or for failure to respond to alarms or for any other act or omission in connection with such alarm devices. Each alarm user shall be deemed to hold and save harmless the City, its departments, officers, agents and employees from liability in connection with the alarm user's alarm device.
Any person who performs, or causes to be performed, any of the following acts shall be subject to a fine of up to $200 for each such act:
A. 
Intentional causing of a false alarm.
B. 
Use of an automatic dial alarm or an exterior audible alarm device in violation of the provisions of this chapter. Each day of such use shall constitute a separate violation.
C. 
Failure to pay a charge levied by the administrator acting under § 89-7 hereof within 30 days after mailing of a notice of charge, unless reconsideration is sought pursuant to § 89-8 hereof, and, if reconsideration is denied, failure to pay such charge within 30 days of the administrator's decision or reconsideration, unless an appeal is sought pursuant to § 89-9 hereof, and, if an appeal is denied, failure to pay such charge within 15 days of the Alarm Appeal Officer's mailing of his/her decision affirming the charge.
[Amended 8-21-2017 by Ord. No. 2018-4]
The City, upon appointment of the appropriate administrator, may institute civil or criminal proceedings to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to alarm devices on premises owned or controlled by the City nor to alarm devices installed in a motor vehicle or trailer.