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Protection or detection / more on fire alarm regulations
May 8, 2019
Protection or detection
    I stopped using the word “Protection” where ever possible years ago once realize that we don’t really protect anything. We detect fire; we don’t protect against it. We detect an intruder, we don’t protect against one.
Joe S
    A recent article in a leading alarm trade magazine by a recognized columnist seemingly used protection and detection interchangeable in an article or fire alarms. The article caught my attention and was going to email the author, but no email address was listed, so I let it go. Then your comment came in and opened the issue up again for me.
    Protection is defined as “the action of protecting, or the state of being protected; a person or thing that prevents someone or something from suffering harm or injury."
    Detection is defined as "the action or process of identifying the presence of something concealed."
It's clear to anyone in the alarm industry that alarm systems are designed and intended to detect, not prevent, potential loss. Alarm companies that also engage in the Fire Protection [Suppression} business understand the difference. Sprinkler systems, kitchen hoods and fire extinguishers are designed and intended to prevent further damage once a condition causing loss exists; not detection but prevention of further damage. 
    Here is the real problem. One of the most important purposes of the Standard Form Agreements, the All in Ones, is to make clear that alarm are intended for detection, not protection. This clarity is essential in setting the proper state of mind of the subscriber, setting the expectations of the subscriber. 
    There is a direct conflict in expectation when the alarm company understands that the alarm system is for detection and the subscriber thinks the system is for protection. When a loss occurs subscribers don't understand that detection was enough. They suffered a loss and are looking for a deep pocket to recoup the loss. If the subscriber doesn't think like this, its insurance company will when pursuing its subrogation rights.
    An alarm contract should not contain the word "protection". Check your contract and then get the Standard Form Agreements.
more on fire alarm regulations from April 29, 2019 article
    I take exception to what Mr Hayes stated about fire inspectors "can't be expected to know it all."
    While I don't purport to know all of the fire and safety codes chapter and verse, I know enough to call the NFPA or someone better versed in the codes like John Drucker if I have a specific question or if a situation is in what would be considered a "gray area." What I do expect of any fire inspector, is to not fail someone's fire inspection for something they are not knowledgeable about. Again, I wouldn't expect any inspector to be familiar with every smoke alarm or smoke detector on the market, but I would expect him to know the difference between a 110V.AC interconnected smoke alarm, a battery operated (only) smoke alarm or a hardwired or wireless, monitored smoke/fire detection system. 
    The fact that while the inspector was at my customer's home and listened while I put the central station monitored burg/fire system on test, heard the consoles sound a trouble alarm when the wireless smoke detectors were removed from their base on the ceiling, and THEN fail the system for not having a 10 year sealed battery was incomprehensible to me. Had I not been close by to go to the customer's home to explain the system, the customer would likely have gone out and purchased a number of 10 year sealed battery smoke alarms, installed them onto the ceiling next to the existing smoke detectors, and then have to pay to have the inspector come back to re-inspect the home. Fortunately, the inspector went back to his office, checked with someone and returned and admitted his mistake. I applaud his honesty.
    But the very next day, I had an inspector in a different town do the exact same thing. The system failed because it didn't have 10 year sealed battery detectors. I wasn't available to go there, nor should any of us in the industry be expected to go to every fire inspection for the sale of a home, but when I called his office the next day, his story had changed. He said the system failed because there was no smoke detector near one of the bedrooms. The customer had been using a room off of the kitchen as an office. There was no other access to the room except through the kitchen. Yet he failed the inspection, stating that there must be a combination CO/Smoke Alarm with a 10 year sealed battery outside that room because it could be used as a bedroom. Does this make any sense to anyone?  Putting a smoke detector in a kitchen is a misapplication. It isn't likely to cause false alarms, but WILL CAUSE FALSE ALARMS. Crap like this makes you want to throw up your hands a migrate away from anything concerning Fire Safety. It's like playing tug-o-war. You just get tired and want to drop the rope. 
As always, 
John from NJ

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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