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comment on ADT fire death case
January 23, 2019
comment on ADT fire death case from December 5, 2018 article
          I finally had a chance to read through the fire death issue story you previously sent out earlier on December 5, 2018 and have some comments on it. 
          The lawsuit states the accidental fire was started on the stove and that the decedent was found in a hallway face down and unconscious. The first signal received by the alarm company was a glass break sensor tamper. Later they would receive an expansion failure signal. No other signals were sent. The lawsuit states the fire started in the kitchen and the keypad was mounted near the front door. I can only guess that the heat from the fire melted open the glass break sensor causing the tamper. Additional fire growth and extension caused a short of the wiring to the RF receiver keypad that caused the later expansion failure signal. This would have taken some time and heat to do I would think depending on how this fire started. This description of events by me is only a summarization or guess on my part with the anecdotal points the lawsuit provides for me to make my point concerning tamper signals. It would be interesting to see the fire department investigation as to the exact cause and extent of this fire and other details as well.  
   On wireless burglary device tamper signals, I have our central station notify the customer and if unable to notify a live person, that tamper signal is changed into a burglary signal and police are dispatched. Why do I have them do this? Because a tamper signal indicates just that; someone is tampering with this system to possibly defeat it. I realize the alarm company in the above fire situation prevailed in the lawsuit and this was a security system and not a fire alarm system but, how much better a position they would have had earlier on if the tamper was dispatched to the police as a burglary when they could not make direct person to person contact with their customer?    How much time would have went by where the police could have responded versus a city employee seeing this by chance and calling it in? I doubt it would have helped save her but, contacting an authority with respect to the tamper signal may have bolstered their defense earlier on would you agree?    
          Name Withheld please,
          You can read the case in its entirety on our website at
Leading cases sorted by state, Kansas.
          Alarm companies and monitoring centers need to be 100% certain that they both know what system is being monitored, what zones are reporting and how the signals are interpreted.  It is simply unacceptable for a fire alarm to be programmed as a burglar alarm, and for a burglar alarm to be programmed as a fire alarm, or test signal, supervisory signal or anything other than what it is.  This is an avoidable error that can and should not be happening.  While your contracts are protective provisions and you have E&O insurance coverage, neither will help you sleep if your system and services contributed to a death.
          Update your contracts, update your business practices and reduce your stress.
          I recently reviewed a central station dealer agreement for a dealer.  I added to the agreement that 
  *  the dealer would provide the central station with a contract for every subscriber before monitoring began, and
  *  test every system, every zone and every signal when an account was put on line.
          My client, the dealer, asked why I suggested imposing these arduous tasks on the dealer and the central station, letting me know he wasn’t use to doing this.  My explanation was simple, this is the prudent way to conduct alarm-security installations.  I can lead a horse to water, but can’t make it drink.
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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
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516 747 6700