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comment on which contract for new owner - fire and security May 12, 2017

KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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comment on which contract for new owner - fire and security
May 12, 2017
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comment on which contract for new owner - fire and security from article on May 6, 2017
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Ken,
    Your response regarding a new owner of an existing fire alarm and it not being compliant is a fair statement on face value, but in my almost 30 years in the industry, the change of ownership is not a "trigger" to upgrade a system to current Code.  Typical triggers could be a remodel (many jurisdictions have a percentage of the building that triggers) or a change in use. There is Code language where the AHJ could deem it hazardous to the public, but I would see that argument as unlikely for a restaurant.  Basically, it is what is termed a "grandfathered" system.
    For those jurisdictions using the IBC/IFC model codes, and unless amended in its adoption, the occupant load of an A Use Group that requires a manual fire alarm system (which implies notification as well) is 300 or more.  That makes for a very large restaurant.
    If there is a sprinkler system it would typically only be a sprinkler monitoring system with the hood suppression system monitored.  If there is notification in the restaurant, and it was installed prior to the 90's, I would suggest to the Owner that they consider upgrading to comply with ADA.
    Hope this helps and clarifies.
Dave Miller, SET, Principal
MCG Design Services
dave@mcg-design.net
503.537.9200
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Response
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    You are entirely correct, but I must not have made my point clear.  A restaurant was sold to a new corporation and the question was did the alarm company need to get new contracts signed, and which contracts.  I suggested that a new Fire All in One and new Commercial Security All in One be signed.  Then I warned that the system might need to be upgraded or the alarm company should alert the new owner that:
the fire alarm system, while grandfathered in, might not meet current code, and
newer equipment, systems and services were available on the security system
    If no work was being done in the premises and the AHJ did not require any upgrades to the fire alarm, why would I suggest that the alarm company point out that the fire alarm didn't meet current code?  I agree that no upgrade would likely be required by the AHJ.  However, imagine this scenario:
    Massive fire; personal injury and loss of life; premises and adjoining premises damages or destroyed.  Alarm company had been doing the inspections, keeping the fire alarm system operable, permits in place, yet the fire.  Allegations are made that the fire alarm was antiquated, not up to current code standards and a current code compliant fire alarm would have made a difference.
    If you think that a smudge look on your fire alarm experts face that the fire alarm was approved by the AHJ is going to stand up to the testimony of the claimant's expert that the fire alarm was hopelessly outdated, you don't understand how trials work.  And don't think the AHJ will be your co-defendant; the AHJ has immunity; you don't.
    What you do have, if you're smart, is the Fire All in One and a signed Disclaimer Notice, both of which point out to the new owner that the fire alarm, though compliant when installed and not required to be updated to current code requirements, be updated.  Why?  It's the responsible thing to do.
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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
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