Having done residential and commercial fire and security systems for 25 years now I’ve discovered a few things.  Installing smokes in new construction can be taught to any high school graduate who has a mechanical aptitude.  A perception is promoted in the interest of profit that Residential or Commercial fire can’t be done without a college degree in Fire Prevention.  That’s fine I don’t discourage that perception it also helps me.  When Im really cocky I start quoting pages from the NFPA 72.  Most people stand back in awe at the rocket science nature of our business.  The best and at the same time funniest quote I read was “pull out the installation page that comes with every smoke detector”.  It really does sum up the NFPA 72  into about 75 words.  I want to meet the guy who wrote those snipets of installation code, what a genius. 
    In regards to adding a couple monitored wireless smokes to an existing structure that already has a traditional hardwire system in place, I say why the hell not.  After all whats the purpose of a fire alarm system, to alert people of fire, and to get out of the building.  The couple monitored wireless smokes may save the structure from burning to the ground.  I’m always fighting the crowd that says nothing is better than something.  Here’s where the nothing is better than something concept arrived.  Well I think Warren Zevon said it best.  “Lawyers, Guns and Money”.  I would like to substitute Guns for Insurance companies.  Those are the only words in that song I like but I really like the jingle.   
    Heres what Im saying.  If one is in this business then the inspection process from wiring to head placement will take care of itself.   I'm assuming that most towns in the US do wiring and fire inspections during the construction process.  When a house or business is wired for us installers there are 4 rules.  Don’t start wiring until the electrician is done.  Don’t run wires with Romex. Keep your wires back far enough so screws don’t hit your wire.  Put your smoke cans where there supposed to be and make sure the contractor and fire inspector sign off on placement.  It doesn’t require 700 pages of blather from the NFPA 72.  But for all of us in the industry I will promote the illusion.  
Dennis Nethercott
b    Regarding commentary about smoke alarms and smoke detectors and comments by Jeffrey Zwirn, I have to chime in.  The individual who commented  about Mr. Zwirn getting off his pedestal (and who was anonymous) needs to wake up.  
    I usually don't agree with Mr. Zwirn and have found myself on the other side of the negotiation table with him.  He is a polished expert witness.  Not saying he's an expert, but he's really good at what he does and that's testify in court.  He knows the code, and he knows how to make a jury listen to him.  Sometimes --- exaggerating.  
    Everyone should understand how the commentary effects them and determine if they are doing things the way the code says you are, whether you have proper contracts, and whether or not you can defend your actions in court -- when Mr. Zwirn is testifying against you.
    He points out the shortcomings that many many (not all) alarm companies apparently are content in doing.  Beware of your actions and understand that later on it might not just be commentary on a blog you have to respond to.
Roy Pollack, CPP SET
    The question of supplemental household fire alarm systems comes up quite a
bit. First and foremost as an Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) we condition the release of ALL supplemental household fire alarm system permits on the  presence of code compliant  primary fire warning as follows;

Smoke Alarms shall be installed and maintained in accordance with the NJ
Uniform Construction Code, N.J.A.C. 5:23 et.seq. including but not limited
to smoke alarms on each level of the structure including basements, outside
each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms and
within each sleeping room installed in accordance with NFPA-72. Battery
Operated Units are only permitted where Hardwired Interconnected Smoke
Alarms with Battery Backup were not previously required or installed
pursuant to N.J.A.C. 5:23-6.  Carbon Monoxide Alarms shall be installed and
maintained in accordance with NFPA-720. Supplemental Fire Alarm Systems
shall comply with 2007 NFPA-72 to the extent of the protection provided
including but not limited to detector placement, supervising station
connections and listing conformance of equipment for intended use.  At the
time of final inspection of the supplemental household fire alarm system the
primary fire warning system will be inspected for compliance.

Hope that helps,
John Drucker, CET
Assistant Construction Official
Fire Protection Subcode Official
Building/Fire/Electrical Inspector
Borough of Red Bank, New Jersey
    As you know, I have an active alarm contracting practice in both the States of New York and New Jersey and have been performing defendant and plaintiffs forensic work since 1980, and started in the alarm industry in 1969. That being said, in response to comments made about what I could have said in response to a particular question, [just read the instructions]; is not the way I have found that people learn.  In other words, in order to generally get people to listen and hopefully change their improper behaviors, you have to try and speak to them in a way that they will hear you, and go to a source that knows the answer.  Of course, all alarm technicians need to read the instructions; but since that obviously was not done by the questioner, I believe that another focus is to verbally hold the questioners hand and take them though the process of how they need to accomplish the subject tasks. If you want to call that pedestal work, that's fine; what I call it is a continuation of getting contractors to do the right thing the first time. I would rather try to help them, [other alarm contractors or electricians]; then stifle the questioner whereby he and/or she just continues not to know how to address their questions, and as a result, potentially increases the risks to their subscribers, and there company as well.
    When you have forensically investigated homes and businesses which have been damaged by fire for as long as I have, and seen firsthand photographs of adults and children that have been seriously burned and/or otherwise injured, or worse yet have died as a result of an alarm system failure; this has to be avoided at all costs; to the extent that something that the alarm company did and/or did not do was a significant proximate cause to the damages sustained. Conversely, when fire alarm systems work and help eliminate and/or minimize serious personal injury and/or death, I have the same investigative focus.
    Stated differently, I would rather you learn from me, then learn from litigation, after your company is named as a defendant in a lawsuit; where you have no control over the outcome. In short, that was the salient purpose of the webinars. To help alarm contractors minimize loss, help better electronically protect their subscribers, and follow recognized methodologies; as elaborated to in my peer reviewed book The Alarm Science Manual.
    We all know or should know, that alarm contracts, [especially the excellent ones that Ken has been providing to the alarm industry for years] are mission critical to helping to protect our businesses; so why is it that many in this forum still do not have Ken's contracts? Why is it that many in this forum have copies of old contracts that are grossly outdated? And why is it that many in this forum continue to listen about the criticality of contracts from both Ken, myself and others, but will still not spend the reasonable costs to buy them from Ken? The answer is simple, they just don't get it!
    Having said that, let me make this perfectly clear to each and every reader. Based on over forty years of specialized alarm industry education, skill, knowledge, training, experience and credentials; and in being a forensic alarm and security expert; if you have not purchased all of Ken's contracts, and if you are not religiously using them; you are operating your business in grave danger of losing it, and potentially being put out of business. You need to know that all it may take is just one claim and/or loss, where your company is named as a defendant.
    Of course, no contract and/or documentation cannot protect you from everything, since we do not know what the fact pattern of the case against you might be; so if you are simply relying on your insurance to protect you against a claim, that's not enough; you don't know if you have enough insurance or what the dollar amount of the claim made against you might be. Finally, you don't know if the alleged loss will be covered by your insurance carrier. However, if you purchase and use Ken's contracts, it can help provide you with the best chance of it being enforced by a court, to help legally protect you from most claims. To that end, buying and using Ken's contracts, combined with following Alarm Science, as elaborated to in my webinars, and in my book, the Alarm Science Manual, is crucial to the life of your business.
    With this in mind, the resolution is a no-brainer; and it is affordable and quite easy to rectify. Step 1: Call Ken's Office Now. Step 2: Order all of Ken's contracts now! Step 3: Give your credit card number now! Step 4: Get the contracts and immediately start using them, [Ken even has a printer on the ready who can get the contracts printed for you forthwith] so even that step has been handled; and Step 5: Stop procrastinating and do it today!   
Jeffrey D. Zwirn
IDS Research and Development, Inc.
Tenafly, New Jersey
Tomorrow we will circulate responses to Randy Stone's end of life smoke detector question - watch for great informative answers.