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do you contract to monitor fire alarms and carry 4 million insurance April 23, 2018

KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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do you contract to monitor fire alarms and carry 4 million insurance
April 23, 2018
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do you contract to monitor fire alarms and carry 4 million insurance
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    We know that fires can cause horrific injuries, death and property loss, resulting in staggering damages.  It's difficult to come up with a reliable number to enable you to calculate the minimum insurance coverage you should have.  Also, before you start to think this doesn't apply to you, ask yourself if you install commercial fire alarms [which makes this article pertinent], a few smoke or heat detectors in a residence, or even a single smoke, heat or other fire detection device in a residence or commercial premises.  If you do, even one, you are installing fire alarms.  If you program the panel to report a fire signal, you monitor fire.
    A 43 year old mentally retarded adult living in a state operated residential facility suffered severe burns and died.  A fire broke out and aides moved her to a mud room where she stayed alive, suffering burns, untl found.  The judge found that she suffered for 218 minutes [little over 3.5 hours] before dying.  
    Her mother sued the state and the case was tried before a Court of Claims judge [no jury].  
    What did the state do wrong, and what does this have to do with the alarm company?  For starters the aides did not follow the facility's fire response plan.  That plan called for the aides to remove residents via fire exits, one of which was located next to the decedent's room.  Instead they moved her to a mud room where she remained until found by First Responders [alive and suffering from extensive burns].  
    Plaintiff argued that the 
"aides actions could have been averted had the local fire department been timely summoned to the fire".  Also that "the state had violated its own fire code by directing that the fire alarm's monitoring company had to confirm any alarm with the facility before contacting the fire department".
    So what was the delay in contacting the fire department?  3 minutes.
    The judge awarded 4 million dollars.  New York State was the only defendant in this action.  Lucky for the monitoring company.  
    How many of you tell the monitoring company, and how many monitoring companies, delay calling the fire department so that they can check with the subscriber, do some form of verification?  Does any regulatory agency call for verification of a fire alarm before dispatching?  How long do the regulatory agencies give the monitoring company to initiate a call to the fire department?  Less than 3 minutes?  
    Some of you know the answers.  Everyone installing or monitoring fire alarms should know the answers.  Everyone should also follow the custom and practice established by the regulatory agencies, in this case I suppose NFPA 72.  Maybe the subscriber wants calls delayed.  Maybe the dealer tells the central station to delay the calls.  You are risking your business for whatever monitoring charge you are getting, and that's nuts.
    By the way, this was just one resident who was injured, sued and will recover.  I don't know if there are others.  Your insurance policy has a single loss limit and aggregate limit.  How long will your policy proceeds last?  
    Next question you're wondering about, especially while reading this, is what about my contract, won't it protect me from a claim like this?  Good question, but I have one for you first.  Do you even have a contract?  Where did you get it?  Who wrote it?  How old is it?  Why should it hold up given the circumstances and facts related above?  It's going to be your burden to convince the judge to enforce your contract, and the judge will be looking for every which way to not enforce it.  If I were you and I did any commercial fire work, I would get and use the 
Fire All in One.  If I installed even one fire detection device or programmed a panel to get a fire signal in a residence, I get the Residential All in One and the Disclaimer Notice.  And I wouldn't wait until I was sued.  I also wouldn't wait until after I installed the device.
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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