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employee car accident while working - can employee pay / comments on grandfathering fire alarm question
May 24, 2017
employee car accident while working - can employee pay  
    I recently had one of my technicians total one of my company vehicles in an accident. He admitted he was distracted by his phone. Is there an agreement that I could have my employees sign who drive my vehicles that would make them subject to liability if it is determined that they are texting while driving?
Noel Pittman, President
Provision, Inc
    Why just texting?  How about driving with ham sandwich in one hand and cup of coffee in the other; steering with knees.  What about adjusting the radio or the climate control or checking other vehicle settings and taking eye off the road?  
    What you are really asking is, can you make your employee pay for damaging your vehicle when the employee is negligent or violating a driving law.  Employment question.  The answer is no, you can't require the employee to pay for the damage.  But the good news is you can fire the employee for violation terms of employment.
    The issue of whether you can sue your employee for damages you are responsible for, caused by the negligence of the employee.  I addressed that issue in this article:
    Here is something even more disturbing.  What about your employees driving their own vehicle for your business purposes.  While driving the employee bangs up his vehicle rather than your vehicle.  I know you already answered the question with," no problem, who cares."   But what if besides banging up the car another driver was seriously injured.  The employee, driving the employee's personal vehicle, was clearly "working", perhaps going to the bank, or after having checked in at the office is headed to a job.  For the first time you wonder, how much insurance does this employee carry?  You find out it's the minimum required by law, far less than the claim will be for the injuries suffered.
    Then you wonder if you have any insurance that will cover you.  Why is that an issue?  Because the injured party can sue your employee and you; you because the employee was working and within the scope of employment.  You need to find out if you have any insurance that covers you for your employees' negligence driving their personal vehicles.  Yes you can get insurance for that.  
    How about brokers on The Alarm Exchange letting us know about this insurance and which carriers offer it.  Does the general liability policy with E&O coverage cover this kind of loss?  Ask your broker about this and let us know.
comments on grandfathering fire alarm question from May 20, 2017
    Check out Oakland California Fire Alarm Ordinance. They require 520hz horns in all slepping areas, retroactive.  They also require pre-wire with worse case calculation for every room that may be converted later to sleeping room.  All wire and power requirements to be installed in the event there is an upgrade in the future.
    I want to respond to the posting for Grandfathering for fire alarms.
    There have been several times that a vendor or contractor stated this is grandfathered or a one for one replacement so no drawings and permits are needed, only to have the AHJ perform their annual visit at the site and wonder how the fire alarm was upgraded with no notification to the local fire authority. As you know when this happens it starts a chain reaction  between the end user in a panic and the vendor/contractor reacting on defense.
    I think grandfathering or one for one replacements being used incorrectly in our industry. While I agree with your definition of Grandfathering clause, I also feel that it is being used as an advantage from one contractor to another to keep pricing down to win the bid.
    My stance on this is that if the head end panel is being changed drawings need to be submitted and permits pulled from the local fire authority.  
    If there is a TI or remodel of the building, drawings need to be submitted and permits need to be pulled.
    If the site main control panel goes down and there is an emergency replacement, the work should be allowed to be performed but during the work, drawings need to be submitted and permits need to be pulled.
    This should ensure that the system is in compliance
    In the case that was sent out by Dave, this site should NOT be allowed to do any new work on the fire alarm without drawings or a permit, who know if the voltage drop calculations or standby battery calcs are correct (the in unit silence switch obviously out of code) indicates that someone does not understand the requirements or avoids them to keep costs down.
    It is clearly written in NFPA 72 that 520 HTZ sounders are needed in sleeping rooms and that every room needs smoke detectors. I am also well aware of the sprinkler code and think that just because the building is Sprinklered a contractor can get away the easy route for fire alarms.  Just seems to me that too much is at risk for a contractor to slide through the loop holes for a fire alarm system in any building.
    It is always in the best interest of the occupant that we as professional in the industry understand the work and protect the occupants and structure.  After all what do is to save lives and protect property.
Best Regards
Steve Schwartz SET
NICET # 95801
    The key word here is the work “Update” not Grandfathering.   Why is this update being called for and to what extent?   An upgrade, such as adding devices may take the job and system out of the Grandfathering position and now may make it a new job with all the new changes subject to the current codes in place.   If you are bidding on such a job, where are the approved drawing and documents to bid on?   Are you engaging in the business of engineering as opposed to just the installation? 
    This work should be done prior by a licensed engineer [this comment is from fire guy in NY, where architect or PE is required to sign off on plans] hired by the building owner before getting bids and not you or a so called fire alarm system design studio that may retain an outside licensed engineer to review their and not his design work.   All the other problems and inconsistencies that you stated are meaningless since the licensed designed engineer and the filed and approved drawing/documents would address and deal with them (low frequency sounders, amount of smoke detectors, silence switches etc.).  
    Lastly what state and city are you in?   Why ask this question, because the building and occupancy that you are describing may only require smoke alarms and not building smoke detectors in a fully sprinkled building and that would negate almost of the concerns that you stated.   Like I said, you should not be doing engineering here but only bidding on a set of approved documents.   If so everything else would not be of concern to you.
Yours truly,
George Costanza from Vandelay Industries     
name withheld
    The rule for submitting plans are in chapter one of your B/F codes.


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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
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