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building access control - fire door issue / competition from former employee May 5, 2018

KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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building access control - fire door issue / competition from former employee
May 5, 2018
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building access control - fire door issue
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Ken,
    I’ve come across an unusual request from a NYC developer with regards to access control on a single exit door for a multi-tenant residential building in NYC. Actually, there are several locations. The customer currently has mag locks on all of the doors with a pneumatic release used upon exit. They were hit with a violation at one building because there is no single action or panic device upon egress. All of the doors swing inward. They are asking for the doors to be retrofitted with an electric mortice lock, but also having this lock connected to and to release the magnetic lock (mortice with maglock control module).
    I asked them why, and they said they wanted the extra security on the door. I told them that although it is possible to do, it is not the right way to secure a fire exit door and that it can also pose a safety risk if there is a fire and the electric mortice lock does not release the magnet. My locksmith confirm that we should just offer the electric mortice lock only. I told them to speak to their lawyer and have them contact the Fire Marshall in NYC as I cannot give them any legal advice, except to say, get it right or face the music. This is the first time that I’ve come across this for a fire exit door. I don’t care if I loose the client by saying no as I won’t put my license at risk, but would like to hear your take on this.
    Post if you want, but don’t use 
my name
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Response
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    We need the fire experts to chime in on this one.  The building code in NYC will dictate what is required for the exit door.  This is an issue for an architect or PE or experienced NYC fire alarm expert, a few of whom read and participate on this forum.  
     The unasked question is what is your exposure for installing the wrong locks or security device.  I often counsel that it's the subscriber's problem to figure out and comply with the law.  That's the advice when talking about using video and audio equipment.  But this is different.  Here you would be installing a potentially dangerous and illegal locking mechanism. [sorry but I admit I don't know anything about madlock control module or a mortice lock].    If you know it doesn't belong on a fire exit door then you can't install it.  It would be worse than installing a camera in a toilet area and then telling the end user to use it legally.  Don't leave your sticker on it.  
    I don't know if this exit door change is going to require a permit from the building department but you need to know before accepting the job, and you need to comply with the law.  Fire injury caused by blocked egress could involve criminal prosecution, not just civil liability.  
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competition from former employee
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    Competition from former employees comes up every so often.  It usually evokes higher emotion than competition from a competitor who steals your account.  It should.  And, you should blame yourself.
    Competition from a former employee is something that you could have anticipated and something you could have done something about; not after he or she starts stealing the accounts, but when you first hired the employee.  You could have required that an Employment Agreementbe signed.  
    Already have employees with no Employment Agreement?  It's not too late.  Get the Employment Agreement and get it signed by all the employees.  The Employment Agreement will have reasonable restrictions and will, at the very least, function as a deterrent to former employees holding on to your business records and contacting your customers.
    This advice doesn't apply to you because your employees are all loyal?  You've been warned.
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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
ken@kirschenbaumesq.com
516 747 6700
www.KirschenbaumEsq.com