With regard to commentary about residential smoke detectors.
    There is a difference between smoke alarms and smoke detectors. Many fire officials and the public intermingle both terms together along with my previous commentary about detection vs. protection.
I'm sure that my company is not the only one where a customer has called saying "your smoke detectors are going off........ why wasn't the Fire Dept called"?  only to find out it was their local smoke alarm chirping.
My state makes the distinction between smoke alarms and smoke detectors in all new construction. In all my years of business I have never encountered any inspector criticizing  installation of any additional detection above code.
John W. Yusza Jr.
Monitor Controls Inc.
Wallingford CT
    Fire alarm services exposes alarm companies to tremendous liability, far more than any insurance you will be able to obtain or pay for.  The risk is enhanced as the services increase, from design, installation, inspection, service and monitoring.  I suppose what you need to be absolutely sure of, and not in this particular order, is that

  • you have the necessary license to perform the fire alarm installation
  • you have the necessary license to perform fire alarm inspection
  • you have the necessary license to perform fire alarm repairs
  • you have the necessary license to perform fire alarm monitoring
  • you have the necessary skill to perform the above
  • you have E&O insurance covering the above
  • you have proper contracts covering the above

    Let's focus on something I can help you with, a proper contract.  
    Residential fire alarms are included in the Residential All in One.  If you're installing an intrusion system, home automation, panic, video, access control, you can use the Residential All in One.  You can add additional equipment for fire detection.  The contract clearly states that the fire detection equipment you add is not a "fire alarm system" to code unless the Schedule of Equipment and Services specifies that you are in fact installing a code compliant fire alarm system.  
    So the question that comes to mind [perhaps because of the recent Jeff Zwirn webinars] is, can you or should you install fire detection devices that are not code compliant?  I think the answer is that you should do you best to sell a code compliant fire alarm system, but if the subscriber doesn't want to pay for that and wants something less, I don't think you are limited to two options: 1) walk away from the job or at least that part of it, or 2) contribute the equipment and labor as your gift.  Do the job requested by the subscriber and make sure that your Agreement is very clear what equipment and services you are providing.  When doing something less than code be sure to get a Disclaimer Notice signed in addition to the Residential All in One.
    Commercial accounts have two contract forms: 1) Commercial All in One, which covers all alarm services other than fire, and 2) Commercial Fire All in One, which is for fire.
    The Commercial Fire All in One also makes it clear that the system is not code compliant unless the appropriate box is checked on the Agreement and the details of the approval process are provided.  Either you comply with the code or you don't; there is no in between.  If you know that a fire alarm system per code is required then my advice is walk away unless the subscriber is willing to contract for a code compliant system and pay for it.  Doing something less can get you into hot water with the AHJ, and while your subscriber may be willing to take that chance, you shouldn't because the AHJ is likely someone you have to deal with on a regular basis and you don't want the AHJ to have a negative impression or opinion of you.  
    If the commercial subscriber does not require a per code fire alarm system then you need to ascertain if a voluntary fire alarm system must then meed code, with full AHJ compliance.  This all or nothing approach happens to be more common than "something is better than nothing" so go and install it.  Know how your AHJ thinks about the issue.  The Commercial Fire All in One requires boxes to be checked on the Commercial Fire All in One and information provided regarding who signed off on plans and specifications.  You should insist that your subscriber comply with the law once you know that full code compliance is required even for a voluntary system.