Thank you for your forum.  Got an interesting one.
    We provide burglar and fire alarm monitoring for a Doctor's office.  The fire alarm is a separate system we did not install.
    Almost a year ago the customer powered down the fire alarm on his own because it false alarmed.  We have repeatedly called and e-mail him that the system should be re-powered and tested.
He has not agreed to do so and it seems he just doesn't have the time to address it but he does continue to pay for the monitoring.  We have a term contract in place which he is fulfilling by paying it down but we cannot really fulfill the monitoring since he has choosen to leave the system powered down.
    We are documented with our calls and emails but are concerned that this could come back to bite us.  What is the best way to protect ourselves ?
    You need to be sure that your responsibility ends with monitoring and that you haven't agreed to inspection or repair service.  Assuming that to be the case the next level of inquiry will be whether this fire alarm system is required by code.  If it is then you should notify the AHJ that the fire alarm system is down.
    The Standard Form Agreements require the subscriber to supply power and communication pathways [other than radio or cellular], and also require the subscriber to notify you if service is required.  Since you know the system is not operating, and you have documented your notice to the subscriber, other than notifying the AHJ there is nothing further to do.  Using the Commercial Fire All in One is your best bet for commercial fire installations.  Residential fire is covered by the Residential All in One, but be careful because that agreement provides that the system is not to code unless otherwise stated in the agreement.  If the agreement says it's to code then you better know the code because the system, in most juridisdictions, is not inspected by the AHJ.
    Since the breach of the monitoring agreement is by the subscriber [failing to provide power to the system] you can continue collecting the RMR and you can sue for it if the subscriber stops paying.
    You could also notify the subscriber that you are terminating the account for failure to provide electric and refuse further payments other than the default provisions in the agreement.
    Quick question,  I have a customer that has already signed a ALL in One Fire Alarm Contract, no monitoring ( local system only ).   They have signed on for service and inspections under contract dated 10/2/14. They are adding some additional protection to a portable building on the premise, ( Same Address ) do I need to have them sign a new All in One Fire Contract to add these additional items which totals $950.00 or can I simply have them sign an additional work order agreement to do this work.
Thank You,
    When we provide the All in One agreement [any of them] we include a Supplemental Form which can be used for add on items.  In your situation it seems like you are installing new equipment to alarm an additional area.  You can use the Supplemental Form but be careful to tie it in with the existing agreement.  Might be easier to get a new contract signed for this work and include the existing services.
    Since the Commercial Fire All in One is for commercial buildings and subscribers I am curious how this is a local system with no monitoring.  I suppose there could be facilities that don't require monitoring because they have on site personnel on fire watch 24/7 but I am not getting that sense here.  Generally commercial fire alarm systems will require filing plans and specifications with the AHJ, getting approval and final sign off after inspection.  You have to install consistent with the files and approved plans.  You can't modify the system, or add on to the system, without going through the same process.  Don't allow your subscriber to lull you into a false sense of security by asking for fire alarm systems that are not compliant.  You should know the fire alarm requirements and follow the law.  Failure to comply with the AHJ may lead to more than a slap on the wrist.
    I think everyone might have missed the answer, If an electrican installs smoke detectors, now a days by code at least here in Ohio, have to be photo electric type and interconnected, In Ohio we are allowed to install a relay and then monitor those smoke detectors, easy please. System Sensor make a relay for this type of installation, I personally have done this a few times and the locals are okay with it as are the insurance companies, soo check with the local in your area and see if they allow this type of installation....Good Lock fellow installer.
NE Ohio
    Take the time to learn the fire codes in your town.  Those codes may include NFPA 72 with or without variation.  Getting to know your AHJ is also a good idea.  What they want is what you should try and do.
    This is in reply to Randy Stone, Estate Watch LLC and his question about end of life replacement for smoke detectors.  Chapter 14 of NFPA 72 contains the requirements for testing and inspection of Smoke Detectors and Smoke Alarms.  It indicates that Smoke Alarms in one and two family dwellings shall be replaced when they fail to respond to tests and shall remain in service no longer than 10 years from the date of manufacture.  Smoke Detectors shall be replaced when they fail to respond appropriately to tests but do not need to be replaced due to length of service.  You should know that Smoke Alarms are manufactured to UL Standard 217 and Smoke Detectors to UL Standard 268.  Many of the devices alarm companies install in homes are actually listed as UL 217 Smoke Alarms and consequently have a 10 year life just like the 110V interconnected Smoke Alarms the electrician installs.  Check the manufacturer's instructions for the UL listing and then be guided by these code requirements.  Fire Alarm codes are changing all the time and as a licensed professional, you should keep informed by taking CEU classes.
Best regards,
Bob Shoremount
Strandberg Consulting Group
          I'm not sure if this helps, but, back in 1987 we did a large upgrade project at a Nursing Home and they had to justify replacing all the smoke detectors to their funding source.  We contacted System Sensor and they said that 10 years was the service life and supplied a very obscure written statement about it.  Several years ago we were in the same situation and did the same, System Sensor said that there was no set end of life and that ten years was still ok if there were no problems and the detectors were functioning properly and within spec. 
           So, Randy may have heard about the 10 year life years ago as I did, but that may have been changed?
Acme Fire
    Re  Randy Stone's question on photo electric system sensor smoke detectors.  I have been told by engineers 10-12 years is there life span.  So in the real world here is what I have discovered.  Photo electric smokes tend to get more sensitive with time.  Its not because the chambers get dirty and I don't understand technically why this happens.  Call one of the engineers at system sensor and have them give you the technical reason if you're so inclined.  At first I thought this sensitivity issue was great.  Not!  What do we not want in our industry?  False Alarms.  So I suppose a rule of thumb is if one cleans one of these sensors and afterwards it false trips again, then replace it.  Or save yourself a headache and replace all of them every 10-12 years.  I have found that customers rarely balk when it come to smoke sensor replacement.  If they do I explain how false alarms generate alarm response from fire departments and the police.  If the system isn't monitored then tell the customer to call when it gets annoying.  Of course these are the homes we have all walked into where we see the smokes hanging from the ceiling or missing completely.
Dennis Nethercott
    Re Randy's question.  If the smoke detectors are properly maintained in accordance with NFPA 72, no more than ten years would be the time period to replace them by.  However, to the extent that construction occurs in the home, the time period for replacement would be right after the construction is completed.  
    With regards to sensitivity testing, to the extent that the detectors are found to be out of factory calibration, and this cannot be corrected, once again, the detector would need to be replaced forthwith. Moreover, any other smoke detector failures and/or impairments that your company identifies, would also require immediate replacement as well.
    Finally, please be very careful when you use the wording [peak performance]; because age of the detector, is just one of the facets of how to help ensure the effectiveness of automatic initiating detection devices.
    If you find smoke detectors that require replacement, as a forensic alarm expert, I recommend using the verbiage that;  the subscriber has been advised and fully understands that all of its existing smoke detectors are installed beyond their functional and reliable life expectancy, and require immediate replacement, since none of these detectors can be deemed reliable for life safety purposes.
    You also need to get the customer to acknowledge same in writing, on hopefully a Ken Kirschenbaum approved work order.
    Often times, alarm technicians will note on their work orders that all of the smoke detectors need to be upgraded. In my opinion, this statement may not provide sufficient warning to the customer, as to the criticality and urgency of same, and could be misconstrued by them [being the customer]; into believing that time is not of the essence for replacement purposes of their existing life safety detection devices.
Jeffrey D. Zwirn, President
IDS Research and Development, Inc.
Tenafly, New Jersey
    RE: End of Life for System Sensor I3 Photoelectric Smoke Detectors
    In each System Sensor detector box there is another sheet entitled "Limitations of Fire Alarm Systems".  In that document second page, right column, second bullet from the end is a statement that indicates;
    "Although designed for long life, fire alarm devices including smoke detectors may fail at any time.  It is recommended that residential smoke detectors shall be replaced every 10 years"
    In addition, NFPA 2010 edition Section indicates in part ...shall be replaced when they fail to respond to operability tests but shall not remain in service longer than 10 years from the date of manufacture".
    Hope this helps,
Harry Gordee
Tru-Lock & Security
Eau Claire, WI
    In reply to PE Smoke Detector replacement question; 
     2010 NFPA-72-14.4.8 Replacement of Smoke Alarms in One- and Two-Family
Dwellings. Unless otherwise recommended by the manufacturer’s published
instructions, single- and multiple-station smoke alarms installed in one-
and two-family dwellings shall be replaced when they fail to respond to
operability tests but shall not remain in service longer than 10 years from
the date of manufacture.  
    Seems reasonable to me.
Bill Smith
Lake Montezuma, AZ 
        Hopefully this will settle this issue for good. The issue is the lifetime of smoke detectors. The first thing I want to say is if you don't have a copy of NFPA 72 stay the hell out of the fire alarm business, you dorks who don't know the code and don't care are giving the rest of us fits and don't belong in the business. Now to the item at hand. Chapter 29 in NFPA 72 deals with residential fire alarms and fire alarm systems. It tells you almost everything you need to know about the functioning of residential smoke detectors and systems.  Section (5)b says "Smoke alarms installed in one and two family dwellings shall not remain in service longer than 10 years from the date of manufacture."  Please know the difference between shall and should (found in the definitions). The reason for this and for the fact that there are no replacement dates for system smoke detectors is that system smoke detectors have self monitoring circuits to detect if they are out of spec. and they in turn signal the control panel to display a trouble condition. Single station smoke alarms generally do not have this function, they are only monitored for low battery situations. This is why system smoke detectors cost 3 - 4 times as much as single station detectors. Also, your readers need to know the difference between ionization, photoelectric and combination detectors and the appropriate places and instances to use them. Please visit  the websites for System Sensor and Firelite, they contain valuable information (application notes, manuals, etc.) that can be downloaded and also webinars that are very informative. All OTC mfgrs. of fire alarm equipment have very useful information on their sites, check them out.  I first met Dennis Riley back in 1971 when I was an employee of a Bethesda, Md. B.A. company and he was selling Ademco 1000L B.A. panels from the back of his station wagon.  It seems that not a lot has changed from then in the s! qirrelly world of burglar(fire) alarms.
    Thanks for letting me rant.
Willard Garrett, SET
    If the manufacturer has no fast rule you are bound by nfpa 72 test requirements which are 1 year from install do a calibration test using a tool specified by the manufacturer. This will assure the sensitivity meets factory specifications.  If satisfactory then sensitivity test is required 24 months later.  Other circumstances may dictate an immediate replacement.  

  • Fire
  • Sprayed with insecticide
  • Paint
  • Unprotected exposure to sheet rock sanding dust.

Joel Kent