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advice for prudent subcontractors / comments on Napco's Starlink
September 29, 2017
advice for prudent subcontractors
    I have a question regarding performing services for a company with nationwide accounts.  I was contacted by a company about running service calls and inspections for them in our area.  We perform fire extinguisher inspections, sprinkler inspections, hood system inspections, Fire Alarm inspections, and service on other life-safety related systems.  We use your All-in-One Commercialand Residential contracts.  
Is it possible to execute a contract in advance that covers these services even though we don't know where we may be working from one day to the next?  How should we best approach this so that we have the most protection from liability? 
    You have been astute enough to use proper contract with your subscribers, the All in Ones, so you are protected as best as you can be contractually.  But how do you know the contractor hiring you has been as careful?  
    Before doing subcontracting work you need to know that the contractor is using proper contracts that will protect you if the subscriber suffers a loss and sues.  More than likely the contractor will be asking you to indemnify it if there is a claimed loss, especially if that loss can be attributed to your work.  If you were working for your own subscriber then you'd have contractual protection.  Unless the contractor has contractual protection that extends to its subcontractors you will have no contractual protection and will be subject to ordinary negligence rules.  
So the contractor hiring subcontractors can screw you in two ways:
  • getting you to work with no contractual protection; in fact you don't even know what kind or promises or representations the contract or has made to its customer
  • the contractor is demanding that you indemnify it against any loss suffered by a subscriber who makes a claim against the contractor.
    What should a prudent subcontractor demand:
  • that the contractor be licensed and insured and name the subcontractor as an additional insured
  • that the contractor have a proper alarm contract [one of the Standard Form All in One forms] that not only protects the contractor who signs the contract but the subcontractor who is performing the services
    As a subcontractor you need to be properly licensed and insured for the work that you perform.  Since your contractor won't let you get your contract signed by the subscriber you should insist: 
  • on seeing the contract signed by the subscriber for any work  you are doing
  • on seeing the contractor's E&O policy and making sure it names you as additional insured
  • ask for the contractor's indemnity; it is making most of the money and should be taking most of the risk
comments on Napco's Starlink from September 25, 2017
    I got on the Starlink train back when they first became available. It was the best thing I ever did. Not only is the device easy to install it also allows Napco dealers like myself to download into any of the Napco panels. It is lightning fast compared to old modem dial up. They now have the Starlink Connect units that can be used to download Honeywell and DSC panels. Verizon and AT&T units available.
Isaac Hayden, President
Dynamic Security Professionals, Inc.
Jacksonville, FL
    Tom's article forgot to mention that Napco charges the dealer for the monitoring services.  Where was that stated as well as how much?   What they failed to discuss or even mention is that in many if not most situations you cannot just go in and replace one technology for another in an existing installation without being subject to the rules and regulations of the local authorizes and related codes as it applies to fire alarms.   Napco is located on Long Island New York, if they did their homework and should have would be aware of this as it applies here locally at the least.   I don’t see that discussed in their article, do you?
    In NYC you have to file a form (A433-B) with the FDNY and have an licensed electrical contractor involved as well, they need to sign and seal this form.   A one for one replacement is not acceptable legally without an inspection.   The inspection must take place with the FDNY at $210.00 per hour.   Who is paying for this and the electrician?   You also take the risk that during that inspection other problems will be found and a violation issued to your customer.   The original Letter Of Approval on the fire alarm system or monitoring job, even to do this change must be present.   I don’t see any of that discussed.   Lastly 5G cell service is just around the corner, what happens then with this product when that happens, does it have to be replaced and this whole process restarted again?   All the facts should be stated to give the whole picture here and not just some proposed arbitrary solution that does not discuss it all.
Your truly,
Doubting Thomas
    Using the Napco product and services, like any other equipment and service, implicitly assumes that the dealer will comply with all AHJ requirements.  If permits and inspections are required to make changes to the fire alarm system, as they usually are, then the dealer should know that.
    As far as how the Napco product and service will handle 5G cell service, that's above my pay grade and maybe Napco will respond.  I can tell you that the Standard Form Agreements [the All in One forms] absolve the dealer from having to repair or replace obsolete equipment, but that doesn't mean that a dealer should install equipment it knows is or will shortly be obsolete.


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