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Central station operators working from home / is the alarm industry at risk
August 9 2023
Central station operators working from home / is the alarm industry at risk
          I will donate $5,000 to any alarm company or central station’s charity of their choice if they will debate me on your forum and webinar on Work from Home Monitoring (WFH). 
          Please see my video on this issue here:
          Please post this. 
Jeff Zwirn  
          UL 827 presently permits listed central stations to have their operators perform their monitoring services from home.  I understand that NFPA is now considering a similar rule.
          Jeff Zwirn, a well-recognized expert in the alarm industry, believes strongly that operators working from home as opposed to a strictly controlled central station environment, is dangerous to alarm customers and detrimental to the alarm industry.  Operators working from home undoubtedly add additional components to what can go wrong with signal receipt, handling and dispatch, and that means an increase in risk on behalf of the alarm industry. 
          This is important to alarm customers, alarm dealers and central stations.  Why?
  *  Alarm Customers:  Alarm customers, and their insurance carries, come to rely on their security and fire alarm services.  This is basic life safety and welfare issues.  Any diminution of alarm service efficiency must increase risk, and this is certainly not explained to alarm customers.
  *  Alarm Dealers:  While alarm customers may not have the sophistication to ask much about the central station operation, alarm dealers should have sufficient knowledge and concern to make the inquiry.  How a central station performs is most certainly important information for an alarm dealer, who, unlike an alarm customer, has hundreds if not thousands of alarm accounts which are being monitored.  An alarm dealer might ask, “what’s the big deal?”  Well I am going to tell you the big deal in a nutshell. 
          Every [sensible and legitimate central station requires its alarm dealers to sign a Dealer Agreement. You can bet that the Dealer Agreement contains a provision whereby the alarm dealer agrees to indemnify the central station if the alarm dealer’s customer sues the central station.  This indemnity includes acts of negligence by the central station.  If you [the dealer] haven’t been smart enough to get the Kirschenbaum Rider to Central Station Dealer Agreement then you likely signed a Dealer Agreement indemnifying the central station without limits or conditions.  Thus, if the central station’s operator is found negligent in handling a signal it’s the alarm dealer who ultimately will be left holding the bag [and that bad may be holding half million or tens of millions of dollars of alarm dealer equity, and a claim can easily exceed the alarm dealers insurance].  Get the picture yet? 
  *  Central station:  Some claim they have no choice but permit operators to work from home and some honestly believe they have imposed safeguards that make the home operators as efficient and safe as if in the central station. 
          But here is the really interesting part of this debate, if that’s what it is.  Zwirn and others have been raising this issue for some time now, and there have been several articles on this forum on the issue, and we have not heard from one central station who admits to permitting operators to work from home.  I’ve spoken to only one central station operator who is adamant about the issue and does not permit, and never permitted, operators to work from home; they all work at the central station under very strict, supervised, conditions; that central station is Rapid Response.  Jeff Atkins, Rapid Response president, is as much against work at home operators as Jeff Zwirn.
          I believe Jeff Zwirn sits on some UL and perhaps NFPA committees, and that he and Jeff Atkins know which central stations permit at home operators, and they no doubt know who precisely advocated and continues to advocate work at home operators at UL and NFPA.   Work at home operators came about because of covet so its fairly recent.  Someone must have proposed rule changes at UL and is promoting the same at NFPA and they must have some good reason or arguments, but what are they and where are these promotors? 
          Let’s here from someone who will debate Jeff Zwirn.
          No point coming up with rules of the debate until we have at least one willing participant who will advocate for the at home operators.  And, let me address one other issue that may come up, the argument that “we can’t get operators to work at the central station; they will only work from home”.  Maybe central stations need to pay more to their operators, so that filling those positions isn’t so difficult.  Sure that will mean higher prices to the dealers which will mean higher prices to the alarm customers.  That’s how things roll.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301