KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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fire alarms codes and NFPA 72
October 30, 2017
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fire alarms codes and NFPA 72
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Ken
    NFPA 72 of The National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code provides minimum code based standards for the design, application, installation, programming, remote station, inspection, testing, and maintenance of all types of fire alarm system. Against the forgoing background, it is important for each alarm contractor to understand their statutory duties when providing any of these services.  
    When the alarm system is a brand new installation, or a takeover to an existing alarm system, violations of these codes and standards can have legal consequences which in some cases may void the contractual protections that would otherwise be enforceable. In other words, a certified and licensed alarm contractor cannot violate its statutory duties and expect to have protection under the terms and conditions of its contract. 
    Oftentimes, customers make demands upon alarm contractors, such as do not dispatch on any fire alarm signals received for five days or do not notify on trouble conditions, which invariably create code violation that can become the centerpiece of plaintiff’s claims against an alarm contractor. At the same time, alarm contractors have to balance the customer’s needs with their duties under the adopted fire code and as per the licensing regulations by the Authority Having Jurisdiction, which they are bound to comply with. Alarm contracts can make a difference in lowering your liability.  However, if the fact pattern demonstrates violations described above, the alarm contractor is creating a false sense of security, not only for himself, for liability and loss potential, but to his customer’s as well who have an uncommon trust that they and their family will be protected in the event of a fire emergency.
    Thanks for your forum and the opportunity to share and exchange ideas.
Very truly yours,
Jeffrey D. Zwirn
IDS Research & Development Incorporated
Tenafly, New Jersey 07670
201-227-2559
www.alarmexpert.com
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Response
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    In case the message isn't clear enough, permit me to elaborate.  Fire presents a few different issues than other types of alarm systems because of the regulations.  Of course the regulations imposed because of the added consequences, risks and exposure when the fire alarm systems are not compliant with safety codes.
    Proper contracts [the Commercial Fire All in One is the premier agreement for commercial fire alarm alarms.  The Residential All in One covers fire as well as the other alarm and security systems common in residences] are essential to protect you from claims and exposure to damages.  But even before you consider the contract form you should first be certain that you have the necessary training, and of course license, to install fire alarm systems.
    In commercial installations we are usually talking about much more than a few smoke detectors.  These are not residential fire alarm systems, though I don't want to down-play the significance of knowing that is required for proper residential fire alarm protection.
    Failure to comply with code requirements can be proof positive that you were negligent.  Failure to comply with enough code or license requirements and you could be facing a fraud claim.  So what?  Well, for one thing, your E&O policy won't cover fraud claims.  
    I don't want to beat you over the head in this article.  If you do fire, especially commercial fire, make sure you are licensed, know what you're doing, comply with code requirements and have the Commercial Fire All in One.  Do that and you will have less problems and more value to your fire alarm account.
    Thanks to Jeff Zwirn for sharing his thoughts and inducing this topic.  Jeff is an alarm expert and great resource.
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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