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comment on new NFPA codes / NYC alarm monitoring / comments on not installing fire alarm, just smokes August 17, 2017

KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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comment on new NFPA codes / NYC alarm monitoring / comments on not installing fire alarm, just smokes
August 17, 2017
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comment on new NFPA codes from August 9, 2017
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Ken: 
     I just read Anonymous’s e mail about “How are you handling new NFPA codes. First, Anonymous should properly identify the Code he/she is referring to.  Anonymous referred to NFPA 2013 section 14.4.6.1. It is actually NFPA 72-2013 edition. NFPA 2007 section 10.4.6.1 is actually NFPA 72-2007 edition. Not sure why the NFPA 72 2010 edition was skipped or reference to the current standard, NFPA 72-2016 wasn’t mentioned.
     It is up to the AHJ to determine which edition of the Standard is used. Since the AHJ usually follows the local code, it is possible that they are using a previously issued code. For instance, one municipality may be using the NFPA 72 2016 edition and another municipality is referencing the NFPA 72 2013 edition in its local code.
     Then, each AHJ may have their own interpretation of what the code means and what they want.
Should probably verify what is needed before sending out contracts. The submitter’s using “Anonymous” as his/her name was a good move.
Richard Kleinman, President
AFA Protective Systems, Inc.
Syosset, NY 11791
www.afap.com
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NYC alarm monitoring from August 3, 2017 article /trademark and patent question
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Ken 
     Your response to who can monitoring alarms in NYC should have read:
     "In NYC only central stations approved by the NYC FD are permitted to monitor fire alarm systems located within NYC."
      I have an other issue:
   If a company "A"has been using a term to describe a service, and company "B" later trademarks that term.  Can company "A" continue to use the term since it had been in use prior to the trademark being issued?            Would the same principle apply to a patent?
Mark Fischer
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Response
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     You're correct,  NYC FD addresses fire alarm monitoring only.  
     Though I am not a patent or trademark expert attorney, you may be allowed to use a trademarked name if in use prior to the issuance of the trademark, especially if it doesn't impact the Mark; i.e. it's in a different industry or market.  Not sure how one gets a patent if a product is already in use or if the prior user can continue to produce it without violating the patent.  Good questions, but I'm not the one to answer them.
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comments on not installing fire alarm, just smokes from August 2, 2017
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Ken
    This is one of the scariest questions I have ever seen.  This isn't even about liability, its about life safety. Where have we come to?
Ronald Walters
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Ken
     There are no words.  Oh wait, it turns out I do have a few words.
    Oh, dear Lord in Heaven, are you kidding me, Jay? 
    In your defense, you did ask a legal expert before you installed it, so there is that.  
Jay, I’m being serious and I’m not trying to be mean.  You’re in the deep end of the pool now.  Do yourself a favor, sell your accounts, if any, and go back to work for someone who knows how to run a business ethically and within the laws of the land.  Preferably a company who uses Kirschenbaum Contracts™ to cover your installation E&O’s.
Kyle B
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Ken
    Are these guys actually licensed and working in our industry?  As soon as I read "I doesn't do", I knew where it was going.   While my majors were criminal justice and then electrical engineering and not English, that phrase set off warning bells (no pun intended).  Hope this was your smile for today.  
Joseph Hayes
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Response
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This topic is worth repeating, so here is the original question and my response.  
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not installing fire alarm, just smokes - what's your liability
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Ken
    
I have a question regarding putting smoke detectors for a small commercial customer in their business.  We doesn’t do fire.  If we put them in are we opening ourself up to liability and is there some sort of a disclaimer we could use that we are not liable and we are only putting in smoke detectors and not a fire system? 
Jay
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Response
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Pardon my limited technical knowledge, but what category of system do you think "smoke" detectors are in, intrusion, fire or what?  You have a one in three shot at getting it right, and I have faith in you.  I suspect the correct answer is, fire.
    
You said you don't do fire, which I take to mean you don't do commercial fire.  That's why you didn't bother getting the Commercial Fire All in One.  Commercial fire, if done to code, requires a different skill set than intrusion alarms.  It's far more involved because the AHJ is involved and there are lots of laws that govern the installation.  The added exposure and liability risk naturally follows.  If you "don't do" commercial fire then don't do it.  If you decide to install and monitor any commercial fire equipment or system then you should be using the Commercial Fire All in One.  
    
That form is to be used when you are installing a fully compliant AHJ approved commercial fire alarm, and also when you are sneaking into the premises in the middle of the night to install something less than the fully compliant system without the knowledge of the AHJ.  You'll be checking the appropriate boxes in the contract to indicate what kind of system you are installing and whether it's to code.  
    
If you don't "do it right" is there a "disclaimer" you can use?  Well my first thought is, yes, it's called an insanity defense.  You are insane if you put in a fire alarm system or equipment, monitor or service it, without complying with AHJ rules and laws, and having a Commercial Fire All in Onesigned by the subscriber.  Be sure to read the Fire All in One because it does impose obligations that you should adhere to; make sure you do to reduce to avoid liability.
    
Residential customers is another matter.  Other than code requirements, generally in new construction or multiple dwellings, all you need are smokes placed in a few places.  But even that creates risks because the smoke zones need to be correctly identified so the central station knows it is getting a fire signal, not intrusion or something else.  The Residential All in One includes fire as well as all security systems; you can also use it for home automation and integration, especially if you are also installing security equipment [if no security equipment you are probably better off with the Home Automation and Integration Agreement]. 
    
If you install fire [or any security systems] be sure that you

  • are properly licensed
  • have the necessary skills to install and service
  • have the right Contract in place with the subscriber
  • have your alarm industry E&O in place
  • have my phone number handy
    I was about to end the article, but noticed the title included "what's your liability".  So let me take a moment to address that.  You're only going to install one smoke detector.  Let me see if this analogy drives home the concept.  You have the worst and briefest sex you can recall and she only got slightly pregnant.  Now she wants pre-natal and child support for the next 21 years.
    So your smoke detector, which will be called a fire alarm once the fire is over, can expose you to liability to your subscriber, your subscriber's tenants and others on the property, personal injury, death, property damage, exposure to neighboring properties for the same things.  Was it worth the extra $200 you got for the smoke detector or service call to the fire alarm component?  That's the risk.
    But I am not suggesting that fire alarm work is too risky.  I am telling you that it poses different and probably more significant risk and you need to take all appropriate measures to reduce your risk.  How?  See the list above.
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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