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how to handle access control tie-in to fire alarm system June 29, 2018

KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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how to handle access control tie-in to fire alarm system
June 29, 2018
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how to handle access control tie-in to fire alarm system
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Ken,
    I want to ask a question as I was not able to find the answer on the All-in-One Commercial security agreement.
    When we install access control in office space that requires maglocks we must tie-in to the building’s fire panel to meet FDNY fire code. We don’t manage the building’s fire panel, it’s proper operation, testing, nor able to file for additions or modifications to the class E fire system, or request inspections.
    I have included following language in our scope of work/project requirements: 
    "Tie in to the base building Class E system by others, FA Vendor must run relay to the Control Panel"
    The issue is sometimes the relay is there from a previous installation and we just plug into it or it’s run for us but not tested after connection. Days/Weeks/Months after installation we get a call because the customer/building failed fire inspection because of a fire panel issue or because the tie-in signal was not the right one for our system to release the door. Our systems can use 3 connections: wet, dry, latching. We plugin based on what was told to us and sometimes it's wrong or it can be changed.
How do we protect ourselves from any issues that may arise from the above?
Running the relay – costs, permits, filing for mods adds to fire system
FA Inspection – scheduling, running, localized inspection and associated costs
FDNY – inspections and certifications
Thank you for your kind input on this matter!
Sincerely,
name withheld
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Response
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    I can only comment on how you would handle this contractually; I don't know the mechanical side. Access control is security and it's covered by the Commercial All in One. When you get that contract you also get a Schedule of Equipment and Service, which is where you list the equipment and services but also add any other provisions that explain the installation and services. 
    Access control connects to the building's fire alarm because the doors need to open when the fire alarm goes off. Same with loss of electric. You are installing the Access Control but have nothing to do with the fire alarm. 
    The Commercial All in One does not address fire alarms. Fire alarms are covered by the Fire All in One. In your case, someone else installs, inspects, monitors and repairs the fire alarm system in the building. Seems to me that the answer to your issue has an easy answer. You don't do the connection to the fire alarm; someone else has to do it. Your Schedule of Equipment and Services will state that you are providing the access control components, including the connection device to the fire alarm, but that the subscriber is obligated to engage the fire alarm company to make the connection.      You should not be touching the fire alarm system.
    When you spec'ed out the job you should have figured out how you were going to tie into the fire alarm system. If you didn't know then you could have shifted the onus on the subscriber to find out and tell you, in writing. These provisions belong in your Schedule of Equipment and Services because your subscriber is not going to know that you can't complete your installation because you can't touch the fire alarm system. This is the case even if you know how to do it because the fire alarm system is under contract with a fire alarm company, not you, and you shouldn't be touching that system.
    As far as liability, well that will be likely if you do make any mistakes. An interesting issue might arise if your contract does provide you won't be making the connection, and you decide to make it anyway. If you do it improperly do you think your contract will protect you? Good chance it won't. Your contract protects you from your performance of the contract, not for your negligent conduct outside the scope of your contract. The All in One agreements do have provisions that extend the contract protection to extra contractual duties or performance, but better to be prudent and stick to the 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
ken@kirschenbaumesq.com
516 747 6700
www.KirschenbaumEsq.com