Question regarding the very useful  information provided on the 7/30/2015 webinar “Residential Fire Alarm Systems-Life Safety or Fatal Flaws” with Jeff Zwirn and the subsequent dialog in your newsletter.  It would seem to me that based on the information provided, any alarm system provider should categorically steer clear of installing smoke detectors in any residential dwelling unless they intend to follow the strict guidelines spelled out in NFPA 72 and any other code requirements for the jurisdiction that the premise is located in.  I am interpreting this to mean that there is no such thing as a “supplemental smoke detector” that is above and beyond a “primary smoke alarm system” which is designed to meet the NFPA 72 and local code requirements.  Supplemental in the sense that its sole purpose was to trigger an alarm notification to the certified central station monitoring point while the primary system’s purpose was to awaken/notify the occupants of the smoke issue so that they could escape by exiting the premise.
    Am I understanding and interpreting the information correctly?
    It has been my previous understanding based on conversations with various state fire marshals and local fire officials that they were in support of the newer generation wireless residential security and safety systems providing residential customers with such a “supplemental system” as long as they clearly stated it as such and informed the customer of their responsibility to have a fully functioning “primary system” that was in accordance with NFPA 72 and local code requirements.  Many of these officials have pointed out that there are too many residential homes without proper smoke detection systems in accordance with NFPA 72 and local code and that something is better than nothing when it comes to this.  I understand the sensitivity and legal liability of this issue and have noted that many purveyors that only supply the latest generation certified central station monitored wireless security & safety systems do not offer smoke detectors at all as they are not in a position to fully meet the NFPA 72 and local code requirements.
    I can understand that it is no easy task to determine if there is a properly functioning and fully compliant “primary smoke alarm system” in place, and therefore the high probability that a decision to put in a “supplemental smoke detector” is subject to question and potential liability.  However, I must raise the question as to are we better off as a society avoiding this entirely or suggesting to the home owner that they remedy the situation with the appropriate primary system and not provide for the extra benefit of having a device that triggers an alarm to a certified central station monitoring point that can notify & summon emergency services (police, ambulance & fire).   During the webinar it was reitierated numerous times that this often is a lifesaving situation and therefore you must comply no matter what with NFPA 72 and local code.  Given the evolution within the industry and the technological advancements, might it be time that a distinction be made in NFPA 72 and local codes to allow for the possibility of a supplemental smoke detector as part of a wireless system tied to a certified central station monitor?
    Thank you for continuing to provide very useful and relevant alarm industry information and this forum via your newsletter.  The webinar that I have reference was both informative and enjoyable and has definitely made me think.  Please keep up the great work.
John M. Flanagan, Senior Vice President
Hitachi Consulting
    You have zeroed in on the central issue:  is something better than nothing and is more better than what's required?
    I think Jeff Zwirn's message was stick to the requirements and you can't go wrong.  
    I think the issue is communication with the subscriber and the subscriber's expectations.  If you offer to install a fire alarm system then, your subscriber has every right to expect that system to comply with code and every custom and regulation, NFPA and more.  It's up to you to explain what you intend to install and also explain whether that "system" is more or less than what may be required or recommended.  You accomplish this in your written agreement with the subscriber, followed up with the Disclaimer Notice if the subscriber is demanding something less than code requires or you're offering.  
    The Standard Form Agreements [the All in One forms] clearly state that fire alarm systems are not to code unless the contract terms specifically provide that the system is installed to code.  Obviously fire systems or fire detective devices have the most potential for property damage, personal injury and loss of life, and the potential liability exposure is enormous, well beyond your insurance coverage.  It simply doesn't make sense that you would expose yourself by not using proper contracts, and it also makes no sense that you would mislead your subscriber into thinking that your installation and alarm service is going to provide more protection than you know it will.  
    Building and fire codes are adopted to protect the consumer but they also protect you because they establish standards that you need to meet.  ADJs protect the consumer.  But follow their direction and you too will be protected.  Whether your AHJ permits more than what's required will probably depend on his or her personal predilections, but your life will be easier if you comply.  If you do install more than what is required you need to be sure that you aren't creating false expectations that your subscriber can reasonably rely on.  The "more" you install better actually provide real benefit to your subscriber and not just increase your invoice.