Liability for selling equipment and programming fire alarm
August 31, 2018


Liability for selling equipment and programming fire alarm   
          I have recently started having my business information passed along by a fire alarm manufacturer to fire alarm companies who are not authorized to use their equipment.  I was wondering the best way to set up contracts for the work I am providing.  The work is limited to sale of equipment and programming of the devices and fire alarm panel.  I am not doing any wiring, service, inspection or testing.  
          Am I protected with a subcontractor agreement?
           Do I need a Fire All in One agreement for this instead?  Do I need to involve the end user or just the other fire alarm company?  I feel that trying to involve the end user would be a difficult request to demand, but I was wondering what liability I would be leaving myself open to.
         I appreciate the insight. A request for the subcontractor agreement is likely forthcoming.
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          Interesting how you minimize your involvement in the fire alarm system. Selling the equipment is putting you in the chain of distribution, opening you to warranty issues.  Without any Sale contract you are essentially relying on the manufacturer’s warranty language, more specifically, Limited Warranty Provision.  And that’s assuming that you don’t alter the equipment.  Your contract for this part of your involvement is a Sale contract between you and the fire alarm company you are selling the equipment to.  You can use the Fire All in One, omitting more of the contract terms, or a Sale contract. 
          It’s the programming that really puts you at risk.  You are part of the installation process.  Here you are exposed to the end user, and you need to be sure that the end user has signed a Fire All in One, either yours or the other firm alarm company’s Fire All in One. 
          If the end user has signed the other fire alarm company’s Fire All in One then you would need a Subcontract with the other fire alarm company to do the programming. Be sure we know that you are the subcontractor so we provide that the other fire alarm company agrees to indemnify you.  The subcontract will provide that the fire alarm company engaging you for this subcontracting work has a Fire All in One with the end user.  That contract will extend its protective provisions to you as a subcontractor.
          I think it would be prudent for you to do more than just program the system.  You should confirm that the central station has received every signal that you program and properly identified each type of signal.  The central station should be able to recognize every type of signal programmed and every zone.  Do not rely on the other alarm company to conduct this test and provide the central station with the signal data.  Why? Because any breakdown in communication will be blamed on you.  By breakdown in communication I mean failure of the panel to send the signal or failure of the central station to identify the signal and zone. 
          If not the most common cause of litigation against alarm companies, this scenario is close to the top.



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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