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Fire alarm division of duties
September 23, 2019
Fire alarm division of duties
            We have a project where we installed a brand new fire alarm and tested it locally. Another alarm company was engaged for the monitoring. Our contract stated that we would install the fire alarm system tested and coordinate with the other alarm company for the monitoring.  The other alarm company demanded that we need to send the signals to their monitoring station.   We believe they did this to avoid having any manpower on site. 
            Couple questions:
1.         Do you see this is as adding additional liability?
2.         Shouldn’t the monitoring company be programming and testing the zones and signals?
            Fire alarm jobs involve the following, most of the time:
Design, plans, permits
            Some fire installations are large enough to be profitable without the RMR items [monitoring, inspection, repair plan], though I think most fire alarm companies will look to get the RMR items after the installation.  Here you have agreed to install the fire alarm when you know you aren’t getting the monitoring.  The monitoring company wants you to perform the final testing with the Monitoring Center.  You may be right that this monitoring company never had any employee on site, and didn’t intend to.  It wanted you to make the connection to the Monitoring Center.  You now question whether it should be you or the monitoring company who should be responsible for making that connection, and what liability attaches.
            Well the answer should be found in your Fire Alarm Contract.  The scope of your work should be detailed.  Every aspect of your performance adds to your risk of liability.  Put another way, in case that wasn’t clear, any time you agree to any thing, you add to your liability because something can go wrong.  But if you agreed to perform the task it’s a little too late to be worrying about your liability.  You should have thought of that when agreeing to your contract.  
            Thus, it’s not a question of who should be testing and making the connection with the Monitoring Center; it’s who agreed to do it.  
            Properly identifying zones and making sure the signals are identifiable by the Monitoring Center is a major source of error.  You [and the Monitoring Center] should take great care ensuring that the signals are not only getting to the Monitoring Center but that they can be properly interpreted for response and dispatch.
            The Standard Fire Alarm Agreement is an All in One; it provides for all of the services mentioned above.  If you aren’t doing all of the work then you won’t be checking off all the boxes.  And if you don’t have the Fire All in One, get it, today, and reduce your risk exposure and increase the value of your contract.

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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