The headlines that a central station notified the fire department 2 hours after a fire started and the fire department was on the scene received a lot of interest in the industry.  Bart Didden of SARRG sent over the article without comment and Robert Kleinman of AFA Protective sent it asking "how would you like to defend this one?"  The article, which appeared in Security Sales and Integration News on June 4, 2015, you can access here:  http://www.securitysales.com/article/alarm_monitoring_firm_contacts_fire_authorities_2_hours_after_blaze_starts?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=enewstuesday.
    The article also included a recorded telephone conversation between Security Central's operator and the fire department operator.  Obviously a central station can't report a fire signal 2 hours late.  Here the operator claimed there were 14 signals.  However, the article is not clear when the central station received its first signal and the response to that signal, or the response to subsequent signals.  There may be a rational explanation for the 2 hour delay.  [In a follow up article by SSI the central station reports that it dispatched within 34 seconds of receiving the fire alarm, so the delay shouldn't be attributed to the central station.  No mention was made of the installer.]   And, there may not be a reasonable explanation, in which event a claim by those injured, subscriber and others, will likely exceed insurance coverage.  This central station, which by the way is not listed on The Alarm Exchange [it probably didn't ask for a listing] better hope that its dealer who installed the alarm has a Commercial Fire All in One and this central better hope it has a Standard Dealer Agreement and a Standard Three Party Agreement with the fire alarm ! subscriber.  The central station and the dealer should also hope that their insurance carriers hire an attorney who knows  how to handle a fire alarm case.  
    I think the headline and the reported story struck a raw nerve in all alarm company owners and managers, who quickly suffered a sigh of relieve that it wasn't their company in the story.  
    Central stations, here is what you need to do to preempt being in a similar story:

  • develop and create a clear and comprehensive response policy
  • properly train your operators in the response policy
  • encourage your dealers to adhere to industry standards
  • refuse monitoring unless you have in your possession the dealer's subscriber fire alarm agreement
  • have a Dealer Agreement with the dealer
  • have a direct agreement [Three party agreement] with the subscriber unless the dealer's agreement sufficiently covers you
  • carry enough E&O insurance
  • have my phone number programmed on your phone

Dealer, here is what you need to do to stay out of this kind of story

  • install only alarms you are competent to install
  • install only alarms you are licensed to install
  • for fire alarms, comply with AHJ
  • for fire alarms insist on installing only approved alarm systems
  • for fire alarms monitor only systems that are properly inspected and serviced by you or others
  • use the Commercial Fire All in One Agreement
  • insist that your central station provide you with its written response policy
  • give the response policy to your subscribers
  • most likely you're indemnifying the central station, so name it as additional insured on your policy
  • carry enough E&O insurance
  • have my phone number programmed on your phone