City of Gardner, MA
Worcester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the City Council of the City of Gardner as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 11-15-1993 by Ord. No. 1140]

§ 302-1 Definitions.

As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
FALSE ALARM
Any signal from a security alarm system transmitted, directly or indirectly, to the Gardner Police Department as a result of:
A. 
Improper design, operation or maintenance of the security alarm system, provided that the owner or person in control has been previously notified, in writing, of such by the Chief of Police and has failed to correct the same within three days of receipt of such notice.
B. 
Activation of the alarm for testing, construction or maintenance purposes without prior notice to and approval of the Gardner Police Department and/or such other City department as may be required.
C. 
Negligence or carelessness on the part of the owner or person in control or such owner's or person's agents, employees or servants.

§ 302-2 Minimum standards.

On or before January 1, 1994, all security alarms utilized within the City of Gardner must conform to the following minimum standards for security alarm systems:
A. 
Limitations on automatic dialers.
(1) 
No security alarm system shall utilize any automatic dialing device that has been designed or programmed to, after activation, repeatedly dial any telephone number of the Gardner Police or Fire Department for the purpose of transmitting a recorded or electronic message of alarm.
(2) 
No security alarm system shall utilize an automatic dialing device programmed to dial 911.
B. 
Limitations on power of audible alarm signaling devices. No security alarm system shall utilize, as an audible alarm signal device, a siren, klaxon or similar electronic signal producer of more than 60 watts of power.
C. 
Automatic resetting of systems or silencing of audible alarm. Every security alarm system must be designed, equipped or programmed to automatically reset or silence the audible alarm within 10 minutes of such system having been activated.
[Amended 1-3-1994 by Ord. No. 1144]

§ 302-3 Registration.

A. 
Alarm systems in general. Every owner or person in control of a security alarm system shall register the same on forms provided by the Chief of Police, which forms shall include the name, address and telephone number of the owner or person in control and the names, addresses and phone numbers of at least two other persons to be contacted in the event that the owner or person in control cannot be contacted. The owner or person in control will also be responsible to notify the Gardner Police Department of any updated information as changes occur to the relevant information contained therein. In addition, such owner or person in control shall affix to the alarmed building, house or structure, according to the directions of the Chief of Police, proof of such registration, in such forms as may be issued by the Chief.
B. 
Alarm systems connected to a central monitoring service. The owner or person in control of a security alarm system which is connected to a central monitoring service shall not be required to register such system with the Chief of Police or to display proof of registration, provided that such owner or person in control has provided the central monitoring service with information similar to that required by the preceding subsection.

§ 302-4 Violations and penalties.

[Amended 6-2-2008 by Ord. No. 1473]
The following acts and omissions shall constitute violations of this article punishable by the fines as herein provided:
A. 
An alarm user whose alarm system transmits or otherwise causes more than one false alarm in a six-month period, unless the owner or person in control, directly or indirectly, notified the Gardner Police Department that such alarm was false prior to the dispatch of an alarm, shall be assessed a fine according to the following schedule:
(1) 
Second false alarm: $25.
(2) 
Third false alarm: $50.
(3) 
Fourth false alarm: $75.
(4) 
Fifth false alarm: $100.
(5) 
Sixth false alarm: $120.
(6) 
Seventh and any subsequent false alarm: $150.
B. 
An alarm user who fails to comply with any of the requirements and standards established by §§ 302-2 and 302-3 of this article shall be punishable by a fine of $25.
C. 
Any person who is aggrieved by a notice of violation made by the Chief of Police or his designated representative may, within five business days from the date of notice of violation, appeal his or her case, in writing, to the Chief of Police or his designated representative for further consideration. Thereafter the decision of the Chief of Police or his designated representative shall be final and binding on the parties.
D. 
This article may also be enforced by civil process, criminal process or by noncriminal disposition as provided in MGL c. 40, § 21D.

§ 302-5 Other prohibitions.

A. 
No person shall intentionally transmit a signal from a security alarm system for a purpose other than an actual or reasonable perceived emergency or for a preapproved testing of the system.
B. 
No owner or person in control of a security system shall, directly or indirectly, refuse or neglect to secure, within a reasonable time period after notification, an audible alarm which has been sounding in excess of 10 minutes or which is repeatedly sounding after automatically resetting.
[Amended 11-18-2013 by Ord. No. 1563]

§ 302-6 Action to end nuisance.

[Amended 1-3-1994 by Ord. No. 1144]
A. 
The sounding of the audible signal of a security system in excess of 10 minutes or the repeated sounding of such alarm following its reset is deemed to constitute a nuisance. Upon the occurrence of such a nuisance and after having made reasonable efforts to have the owner or person in control silence the audible signal, a command officer of the Gardner Police Department may, for purpose of ending the nuisance, silence or cause to be silenced such audible signal.
B. 
After action to end a nuisance has been made in accordance with this section, a command officer of the Gardner Police Department shall have the property secured, if necessary. The reasonable costs and expense of abating a nuisance in accordance with this section shall be assessed to the alarm user, who shall be liable to the City for expenses incurred by the City in abating the nuisance. The Police Chief or his designee shall provide the owner with a written statement of all costs associated with responding, abating and securing the building. If the alarm user fails to pay or reimburse the City within 60 days of notice of expenses, the City shall record the notice of claim in the Worcester District Registry of Deeds (or the Land Court Department) forthwith, establishing a lien on the property for the balance due.
[Added 6-2-2008 by Ord. No. 1473]
[Adopted 2-17-2015 by Ord. No. 1575]

§ 302-7 Purpose; applicability.

A. 
The purpose of this article is to encourage owners and fire alarm businesses to properly use and maintain the operational effectiveness of fire alarm systems in order to improve the reliability of fire alarm systems and reduce or eliminate false fire alarms and nuisance fire alarms.
B. 
This article governs fire alarm systems intended to summon Fire Department personnel, and requires registration, assessment of fees for excessive false fire alarms and nuisance fire alarms, provides procedures for repeat offenders, provides for the severability of the parts hereof if declared invalid, and provides an effective date.
C. 
This article is not applicable to one- and two-family dwellings.

§ 302-8 Definitions.

As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
ADOPTED CODE
Code adopted by the jurisdiction, and in the absence of adopted code, the National Fire Protection Association National Fire Alarm Code 72 (NFPA 72), 527 CMR and MGL c. 148.
ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL
Fire Chief or his designee.
A. 
Any signal from a fire alarm system transmitted, directly or indirectly, to the Gardner Fire Department as a result of:
(1) 
Intentional misuse of the fire alarm system by the owner or person in control or such owner's or person's agents, employees, or servants.
(2) 
Negligence or carelessness on the part of the owner or person in control or such owner's or person's agents, employees or servants.
(3) 
Activation by any components connected to the fire alarm system.
B. 
The activation of a fire alarm system will not be considered a false fire alarm if the alarm is activated due to malicious causes beyond the control of the owner or person's agents, employees, or servants.
FIRE ALARM BUSINESS
Any individual, partnership, corporation or other entity that is appropriately licensed in the state/jurisdiction and installs, causes to be installed, permits to be installed, alters, maintains, repairs, replaces or services (including services which provide resetting and silencing of all equipment transmitting fire alarm or supervisory signals to an off-premises location) any fire alarm system.
FIRE ALARM SYSTEM
Any system or portion of a combination system consisting of components and circuits arranged to monitor and/or exterior annunciate the status of a fire alarm or supervisory signal-initiating devices and to initiate the appropriate response to those signals.
KNOX-BOX®
A high security lock box to hold building keys. It shall be opened by the high security key registered to the Gardner Fire Department.
NUISANCE FIRE ALARM
Any signal from a fire alarm system transmitted, directly or indirectly, to the Gardner Fire Department as a result of:
A. 
Mechanical failure, malfunction, improper installation;
B. 
Lack of proper maintenance or any other response for which the Fire Department personnel are unable to determine the apparent cause of the alarm activation.
QUALIFIED FIRE ALARM TECHNICIAN
Any person who inspects, installs, repairs or performs maintenance on fire alarm systems. This person shall be licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

§ 302-9 Fire alarm system maintenance, inspection certification.

A. 
Certification. All newly installed or recertified commercial fire alarm systems shall be approved by the Enforcement Official. The certification shall indicate that the fire alarm system is in compliance with adopted codes. The certification shall be signed by a qualified fire alarm technician.
B. 
Inspection. The owner shall ensure that all fire alarm systems are inspected and tested at least once per year in accordance with adopted codes. A report of the testing and inspection shall be provided to the Enforcement Official.
C. 
Maintenance. The owner shall ensure that all fire alarm systems are periodically maintained per manufacturer specifications and adopted codes.
D. 
Knox-Boxes® and keys. The owner of any multifamily building of three or more units, commercial, institutional, or industrial occupancy which has automatic Fire Department notification of a fire alarm shall install a "Knox-Box® Rapid Entry" key box or equivalent, operable by a Gardner Fire Department proprietary high security key, at a location to be approved by the Enforcement Authority. Current keys to open the building shall be kept in the Knox-Box®, and:
(1) 
Any fire alarm system control panel installed or modified after the effective date of this article shall be locked at all times with a CAT30 key, also known as a "Simplex B" key.
(2) 
The fire alarm system control panel key shall not be kept in a location accessible to anyone other than the owner or persons listed in § 302-10.

§ 302-10 Registration.

Annually before June 1, registration shall be required for fire alarm systems.
A. 
Registration. The owner shall complete and deliver the fire alarm system registration in the required format to the Enforcement Official before the fire alarm system is activated or placed into service. This registration shall be updated annually. The fire alarm business, when authorized by the owner, may assist the owner in accomplishing this submission of the fire alarm registration to the Enforcement Official.
B. 
Alarm systems in general. Registrations shall not be transferable from one premises to another or from one owner to another.
C. 
Registration form. Every owner or person in control of a fire alarm system shall register the same on forms provided by the Gardner Fire Department Enforcement Official, which forms shall include the following information:
(1) 
The name(s), address of the premises, mailing address (if different from the address of the premises), business and home telephone number of the owner and lessee, operator, manager or person in possession of the premises wherein the fire alarm system is installed.
(2) 
The name, address and telephone number of a minimum of two persons who can be notified 24 hours a day, in the event of the activation of the fire alarm system, who shall be capable of responding to the premises within one hour, and who are authorized to enter the premises to ascertain the status thereof.
(3) 
The name, address and telephone number of the fire alarm business which has contracted to service the fire alarm system and proof of proper state licensing/registration if required. Proof of proper state licensing may be a valid state licensing number.
(4) 
The date the registration is signed or the fire alarm system is placed in service for any reason.
(5) 
The date of annual maintenance and testing required by NFPA 72.
(6) 
Any other documentation that is required by adopted codes.
D. 
Notification. Every fire alarm business shall notify the Enforcement Official of the existence of a fire alarm system prior to the fire alarm system being put into operation. It shall be the responsibility of the installing fire alarm business to provide the owner with notice of the existence of this article, a registration form and a copy of the fire alarm system operation instructions in accordance with adopted codes, and the manufacturer's instructions.
E. 
Alarm systems connected to a central monitoring service. The owner shall be required to reregister whenever there is a change in the fire alarm business responsible for maintaining, servicing, and/or monitoring the fire alarm system, whenever a record of completion is prepared, or at change of ownership.
F. 
Change of information. The owner or person in control will also be responsible to notify the Gardner Fire Department of any updated information within 15 days of the owner becoming aware of such change.

§ 302-11 Violations and penalties.

A. 
The provisions of this section shall not apply to any newly installed fire alarm system for a period of 30 days 30 from the date of installation, but shall apply from and after the expiration of the initial thirty-day period following installation. The following acts and omissions shall constitute violations of this article punishable by the fines as herein provided:
(1) 
False fire and nuisance alarms. Any owner whose alarm system transmits or otherwise causes more than three false fire alarms or nuisance fire alarms during a calendar year, unless the owner or person in control, directly or indirectly, notified the Gardner Fire Department that such alarm was false prior to the dispatch of an alarm, shall be assessed a fine according to the following schedule:
(a) 
Fourth false alarm or nuisance fire alarm: $75.
(b) 
Fifth false alarm or nuisance fire alarm: $100.
(c) 
Sixth false alarm or nuisance fire alarm: $120.
(d) 
Seventh and any subsequent false alarm or nuisance fire alarm: $150.
(2) 
Failure to comply. Any owner who fails to comply with any of the requirements and standards established by the above sections of this article shall be punishable by a fine of $25 for each violation.
(3) 
Failure to pay. Should any fee assessed pursuant to this article remain unpaid in excess of 60 days from the date the fee is billed, a late fee in the amount of $25 shall be assessed and shall be payable by the owner of the premises in addition to the original fee.
(4) 
Fire alarm business. The fire alarm business shall be assessed a fee of $50 if an Enforcement Official determines that a false fire alarm was directly caused by an on-site employee or representative of the fire alarm business. In this event, no false fire alarm shall be counted against the owner.
(5) 
Knox-Box® and keys.
(a) 
Any owner found in violation of § 302-9D shall be assessed a fee of $50.
(b) 
Any person found resetting or otherwise placing the fire alarm system into a condition such that the cause of the alarm cannot be determined by the Enforcement Authority shall be assessed a fee of $50.
B. 
This article may also be enforced by civil process, criminal process or by noncriminal disposition as provided in MGL c. 40 § 21D.

§ 302-12 Grievance and appeal.

Any owner or fire alarm business who is aggrieved by a notice of violation may appeal the assessment of fees to the Civil Enforcement Officer, within five business days of the date of notice of violation, in writing, to the Civil Enforcement Officer for further consideration. Thereafter, the decision of the Fire Chief or his designated representative shall be final and binding on all parties.

§ 302-13 Additional provisions specific to nuisance fire alarms.

In the event the activation of a fire alarm system is deemed by the Enforcement Official to be a nuisance fire alarm, the owner or authorized representative shall be notified by an officer or member of the Fire Department, indicating that the activation was deemed to be the result of a nuisance fire alarm.
A. 
This shall require the owner to return a completed report of service/repair within seven days of the notification to verify, to the reasonable satisfaction of the Enforcement Official, that:
(1) 
The fire alarm system has actually been examined by a qualified fire alarm technician; and
(2) 
A bona fide attempt has been made to identify and correct any defect of design, installation or operation of the fire alarm system which was identifiable as the cause of the nuisance fire alarm.
B. 
Failure to return a report of service/repair within said seven-day period, which is reasonably satisfactory to the Enforcement Official, shall result in assessment against the owner of $100 for failure to comply with the aforementioned provision.
C. 
In the event of a nuisance fire alarm which in the judgment of an officer or member of the Fire Department constitutes an immediate threat to the life safety of the occupants of a premises, a twenty-four-hour time limit to effect repairs may be imposed.

§ 302-14 Reactivation or reconnection of fire alarm system.

A. 
A fire alarm system may be reactivated upon a finding by the Enforcement Official that the owner of the premises has taken corrective action to remedy the cause of the false fire alarms or nuisance fire alarms at the premises.
B. 
In making a request for such a reactivation, the owner shall have the burden of showing what corrective action has been taken.
C. 
The Enforcement Official shall have the right to inspect the fire alarm system and test it prior to approving a new order to reconnect or reactivate the fire alarm system.
D. 
The Enforcement Official shall not approve a new order to reconnect or reactivate if the owner has failed to pay any fee pursuant to this article.

§ 302-15 Government immunity.

A. 
Registration of a fire 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 immunity as provided by law is retained.
B. 
When registering a fire alarm system, the owner acknowledges that Fire Department response may be based on factors such as availability of Fire Department units, priority of calls, weather conditions, traffic conditions, emergency conditions, and staffing levels.
C. 
The City, its officers, employees and agents shall not assume any duty or responsibility for the installation, maintenance, operation, repair or effectiveness of any privately owned fire alarm system, those duties or responsibilities being solely those of the owner of the premises.

§ 302-16 Severability.

The provisions of this article 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.