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Liability for one smoke detector / Older subs intimated by contract / Fake smoke
June 11, 2018 
Liability for one smoke detector
            Occasionally, customers will opt for just a burglar alarm and not fire detection because their homes "already have smoke detectors." Invariably, they'll change their minds and ask for "monitored smoke detectors" a year or two later. This new found interest usually corresponds to the renewal of their homeowner's policy when they find out they can get a discount on their insurance premium.
            It's my understanding that adding just one smoke detector to a burglar alarm system changes the legal characterization of the alarm system to a fire alarm. The Residential All-in-One has language in Section 1 that reads " an electronic security and or fire alarm system," but a separate checkbox for Fire Alarm in Section 2, Description of Services, which I usually do not check when the original contract is executed, when no fire detection is included.
            If this is the case, that a burglar alarm becomes a fire alarm when adding fire detection, how should this be documented?  Is the Supplemental form appropriate in this case, observing the language used in Section 1?   Or, would further documentation be required to reflect the change to the system?
Anonymous please
            The Residential All in One [updated form] has the following provision, which I think covers your issue:
     14.  FIRE ALARMS:  Unless the Schedule of Equipment and Services provides for a fire alarm system to code ALARM COMPANY makes no representation that the fire alarm equipment meets local code requirements or constitutes a fire alarm system as that term is defined by the Authority Having Jurisdiction [AHJ] over fire alarm systems in Subscriber’s premises.  If a fire alarm system to code is specified in the Schedule of Equipment and Services then ALARM COMPANY will install fire alarm equipment pursuant to AHJ requirements.   Subscriber agrees that any equipment required by the AHJ not specified in the Schedule of Equipment and Services shall be an extra to this agreement to be paid for by Subscriber at time the additional equipment is requested.”
     You start by describing the equipment in the Schedule of Equipment and Services, so you will state that a single smoke detector is going to be installed and monitored – or a stand-alone and not monitored – whatever you are installing.  If the AHJ requires more than one smoke detector, or you’re not putting it where it belongs, be sure to state that in the Disclaimer Notice.  The subscriber needs to be on notice that you are not installing fire equipment per code or custom and practice.
Older subs intimated by contract
            I have the All In One Agreement but our older residential clients are very intimated by it.  We do a lot of monitoring in our retirement community of Sun City, AZ.
No name
            I wonder if those older subscribers are smart enough to turn in a claim to their insurance company or sue you directly for a loss.  Get it?  They have to sign the contract or don’t do the job.
Fake smoke
            Please comment on any added liabilities / exposures in using a THEATRICAL "FAKE SMOKE” as a deterrent. In today’s world of precision smash and grad chiefs, this product may have a niche.
            It is important to note that AHJ mandated smoke detectors would trigger upon release of the SmokeCloak product.
Keith Fisher 
            So someone breaks into a premises and besides the siren going off they are met by the release of heavy fake smoke intended to disorient them or decrease their visibility.  Could you face exposure?  What if the intruder got seriously hurt, banged into something; lose an eye to a hanging cabinet; fell down steps to the basement; ran through a plate glass window?  
            Well, they are an intruder, certainly an uninvited guest.  What rights do they possibly have?  I’d like to say none, but I think that may over-simplify the answer.  You cannot create traps on your premises with the intent of harming those who come onto the property, even intruders.  Do you think you can set up a shot gun aimed at each entrance and goes off if someone comes in before turning off the alarm?  How about a deep pit by each entrance into the house that causes someone to fall in while the siren is going.  May as well put a few spikes at the bottom to impale them.  
            I don’t think so.  So it depends on how debilitating the fake smoke is, and what kind of injury is suffered.  Off the cuf,f I guess you can use reasonable measures to protect your property.  What reasonable is will depend on the circumstances of each incident.  


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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
516 747 6700