Massachusetts is, hands down, one of the best US states. Despite being small (7th smallest state), it’s home to a lot of high-caliber universities. Three of which are found on the list of top US colleges: Harvard University, MIT, and Boston University. The Bay State also offers places that are rich both in history and nature. There’s the Cape, the island of Martha’s Vineyard, the Freedom Trail, the historic houses of Salem, and several museums. But Massachusetts’ best feature is, perhaps, its people. Sure, they’re stereotypically called “Massholes” and they’re known to hate the Yankees a bit too much, but beneath tough exteriors you’ll find big hearts.
Massachusetts is not only a great place to live, but a good place to earn a living. With higher average household incomes and lower unemployment rates than other states, Bay Staters may want to consider getting a home security system installed to protect their investments from man-made and natural disasters.
Home Security Provider Requirements for Massachusetts
The Massachusetts State Government has certain regulations in place for potential security providers. The regulations ensure that: (1) a company is capable of properly installing security systems and (2) the company is of good moral conduct.
The most basic requirement is an electrician’s license of any class. This can be obtained by submitting an application form to the Division of Professional Licensure.
After obtaining an electrician’s license, the applicant may apply for an S-License (formerly known as Security Systems Contractor License). Having an S-License permits the applicant to sell and install alarm systems and hire contractors. However, the license must be renewed every 2 years. There are 4 major requirements for the application:
- Electrician’s License
- Three Citizen Certifications from three Massachusetts residents to verify the applicant’s reputation.
- Signed CORI form that authorizes the state to request a copy of the applicant’s criminal record from the Criminal History Systems Board.
- Completed S-License Application Form with 1 government ID and $250 application fee (check or cash).
To protect consumers, applicants who have been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, such as felony or wiretapping, are generally denied. However, they may appeal to the Commissioner to have a hearing that will determine if it’s appropriate to grant them a license.
The S-License is only for the person or company engaged in the alarm business. Contractors working for an S-License holder must acquire a Certificate of Clearance. This certifies that they are an employee of an S-License holder. Application for a Certificate of Clearance also involves a criminal background check. It is the responsibility of the S-License holder to make sure employees are criminal conviction free.
Now, if you’re planning to have a security system installed in your house, you must seek the company’s S-License number before making any arrangements. You can validate their license by calling the Division of Professional Licensure at (617) 727-3200 or by looking up their license on DPS’ website.
Another homeowner responsibility is getting an alarm permit. Massachusetts doesn’t have a statewide rule about alarm permits. However, most Bay State cities require them. The best plan of action is to check with your local police department.
Home Security Camera Laws in Massachusetts
How about security cameras? The Bay State has no laws regulating the use of security cameras. But that doesn’t mean you are off the hook. Just to be safe, it is recommended to install your cameras in places where they would be easily seen by anyone visiting or passing by. Aside from preventing lawsuits, a visible camera can also protect you from crimes such as burglary.
While there are no laws regarding security cameras, there is a law that covers wiretapping. In most states, you are absolved from wiretapping if you have the consent of at least one of the parties involved. However, in Massachusetts, there’s the “two-party consent” law. The law states that you need the consent of both parties to legally record a conversation. Otherwise, you might be convicted of wiretapping.
How does that affect security camera owners? Most security cameras can record both video and audio. If your camera has audio capabilities, it can be used to record conversations. Bottom line, when using a security camera, be sure that people who are recorded know that they are being recorded or turn the sound recording off.
Other Important Safety Measures for Bay Staters
Massachusetts, being in the East Coast, is prone to natural disasters. There are three natural disasters Bay Staters must prepare for: storms, drought, and earthquakes. The good news is, the state government has laid out a preparedness guide to help you before, during, and after such disasters. They even have an iOS and Android app, the Massachusetts Alerts, that sends alerts and tips to homeowners when there’s an incoming disaster.
Different kinds of storms may affect the Bay State. Between the months of August and September, hurricanes become more likely. Between October and May, nor’easters rule. And during the winter months, nor’easters may bring snowstorms.
There are two things you should prepare for before any of these storms hit—strong winds and flood.
Strong winds alone can cause terrible structural damage. They can blow roofs away, uproot trees, and take down electric lines. They can also take away lives. It’s best to start preparing months ahead of storm season. Make sure your roof can withstand powerful gusts. If you have trees in your yard, regularly cut weak branches that may be blown toward your house during storms. It’s also best if the trees are at a safe distance to prevent them from falling on your home. You should also make a plan of action. Where is the safest place in your house to hide during storms? If things get worse, how will you evacuate? Where will you evacuate? And finally, prepare for at least a week’s supply of medical needs, water, and food.
Floods, on the other hand, are usually caused by storm surges, and they are one of the greatest threats to those living near the coast. Strong winds and atmospheric pressure brought by storms cause the tides to rise, which results in flooding. The tides caused by storm surges are usually powerful, so it’s best to stay away from the beach during a storm. The state also has laid out an evacuation plan in case you need to leave the house during a storm surge.
Droughts are not as destructive as storms or earthquakes. Still, they are considered a natural disaster as they have a direct affect on many different things. For example, wildlife relying on rivers and lakes and crops can all be affected by droughts. In severe cases, droughts can lead to wildfires. If this happens, the state will usually issue a water use restriction. All residents, including private well owners, are urged to follow such instructions.
According to Massachusetts.Gov, the Bay State lies in a moderate earthquake zone. While past earthquakes were mild at best, there’s always the possibility of a stronger event occurring. If that happens, being prepared goes a long way. Massachusetts Emergency Management Energy offers safety tips before, during, and after an earthquake.
Sure, living in Massachusetts can be tough sometimes, but it’s worth it. Never let anything, be it a storm or crime, take it away from you. Always be prepared.