KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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Comment on what is central station / Should you monitor non-compliance fire alarm March 13, 2017
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Comment on what is central station
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Ken
   The "readers digest" version of WHAT IS A CENTRAL STATION can be summed up like this.

1- Central Station.
    A monitoring center meeting the standards of UL as a central station. Those standards concern construction of the facility. Power requirements (Standby generator, computer redundancy  etc)
    Staffing levels that conform to UL Standards and performance of tasks in conformity with the standards of Underwriters Laboratory. Some but not all of the standards deal with the dispatching of a runner or key holder from the  monitoring center within certain time standards. The runner has keys or access to the building they are sent to.  There are time standards for response to certain types of alarms as well as necessary records for all activity.
    The installation and service is provided by a COMPANY that itself IS UL LISTED to meet the standards of UL for their installation and service.
 
2- Remote Station
    A remote station monitor service may or usually is provided by a monitoring entity that itself IS UL LISTED as a CENTRAL STATION but the services performed do not require the full gamut of UL services.  ((Instead of dispatching a runner the remote station will contact a key holder. If none is available from the subscriber list, nobody goes to meet the emergency services.
    Remote station services are usually CONTRACT MONITORING centers that provide service to independent dealers.
    While the remote station itself may be UL LISTED as a CENTRAL STATION the services they provide many independent dealers ARE NOT UL listed because the installing and servicing dealer is not a ULL LISTED COMPANY.
 
3- Auxiliary Station is when service is provided by a government entity such as a police or fire department as part of their regular dispatching services.
 
4- Last we have the PROPRIETARY STATION.
   A proprietary station is one in which the monitoring center is operated and under the control of the parent company of the facility being monitored.
    Think of a large BOX store. Yes (( Insert NAME here))THAT ONE.
They have their own monitoring / loss prevention services that monitor all of their own stores. They may view cameras and check the scene BEFORE dispatch.
    Large companies with stores all over the country choose to do this as a method to promote a UNIFORM RESPONSE on the part of the monitoring center to alarms and other emergencies.
Some of the material above excerpted from NTS Level 1 Certified Alarm Technician course.
    From high atop Mt Pisgah Vt. Temp minus 16 Degrees Fahrenheit
Joel Kent
FBN
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Should you monitor non-compliance fire alarm
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Ken,
    I listened in on the  "All You Need To Know About Fire Alarm Systems and Taking Over Fire Alarm Systems" [Jeff Zwirn] webinar.  I wanted to check with you to make sure I correctly understood the information that was presented before we take corrective action. 
    In short, what I heard was that we shouldn't be monitoring anything that isn't up to current code, and we need to be offering inspections to the customers that have fire alarm equipment. The customers may refuse the inspections in writing and that we should be using a fire alarm contract to do so.
    If we find a customer has equipment that no longer meets code or next year the code changes and the equipment no longer meets code, is informing them in writing and requiring them to acknowledge this deficiency to continue monitoring the system enough, or do we need to cancel their contracts if they refuse to bring things up to code?
    It is my understanding that fire alarm systems are not "grandfathered" in due to age and that the equipment is always to meet code and the question becomes if the AHJ enforces that requirement. If documentation of the refusal to upgrade isn't enough, this means that every time something about the code changes we will need to go back to our customers and propose upgrades, and if they don't go with them, give them the boot.
Thank you,
Adam
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Response
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    Complex question, especially if we are talking about commercial fire alarms that are required by local AHJ.  That fire alarm system is going to have to be installed pursuant to an application which will include plans and specifications.  The application will have to be approved, the work inspected and finally approved by the AHJ.  That covers the installation process.  That system will then need to be inspected and monitored.  Generally it’s the subscriber who has the responsibility of compliance with fire alarm laws, which means it’s the subscriber’s responsibility to have the fire alarm system inspected and monitored.  If the subscriber doesn’t want to comply then it’s the subscriber who is going to be fined and possibly suffer the closing of the building because the CO is yanked.
    Where does that leave the fire alarm company who is providing monitoring?  The webinar presentation emphasized the risks involved in providing fire alarm services and that would include inspection, repair service and monitoring.  [Installation too, but we are past that in this scenario].  Assume a serious fire loss involving personal injury and property damage, not just to your subscriber by adjoining property owners, followed by a lawsuit accusing you of negligence for your failure to properly install, repair, inspect and monitor a fire alarm system that is not up to code and hasn’t complied with inspection requirements.  Sure, the AHJ may have been remiss in following up, issuing fines, etc., but the Fire Marshal and the AHJ is immune from suit, governmental immunity.  You’re not.  If the alarm didn’t operate 100% you can become a target for recovery.
    However, you are not the AHJ and you are not required to perform the duties of the AHJ.  Obviously if you are submitting plans and completing the installation and seeking final approval you are obligated to install pursuant to those plans.   Likewise, if you are submitting annual inspection reports to the subscriber and AHJ you better be doing them.  I am not aware of any law or regulation that would require you to notify the AHJ that a fire alarm system you are monitoring no longer complies with code.  There could be such a law, I just don’t know of any.  
    I am also not sure that your statement that a fire alarm system can’t be grandfathered is accurate.  Once installed and approved updates are not generally required unless improvements are being made to a building and a new CO is needed.  That too could vary by jurisdiction I suppose.  
    Here are a few simple guidelines to reduce your risk of being sued and losing the case.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
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