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when can you take fire alarm off-line and terminate service June 28, 2018

KEN KIRSCHENBAUM, ESQ
ALARM - SECURITY INDUSTRY LEGAL EMAIL NEWSLETTER / THE ALARM EXCHANGE
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when can you take fire alarm off-line and terminate service
June 28, 2018
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when can you take fire alarm off-line and terminate service  
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Ken,
    Our alarm company has three separate fire alarms at three separate businesses in the same building. One of the business owners (not the building owner) closed his business and asked us to take the fire alarm off-line. I contacted the fire marshal over a month ago and he said he would swing by and talk to him.  I also gave him the building owners phone number. it has been over a month and after several voicemails and emails I have not heard back from the fire marshal.  My question is, how should I proceed, as we can’t continue to pay Central Station for the monitoring when no one is paying us, and we don’t feel comfortable just taking the alarm off line. thanks for your help.
anonymous
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Response
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    This is a common occurrence, and I am not surprised that you are struggling with an answer.  I am too.  If you formally asked for my legal opinion [for which you'd have to pay $10,000] I would conclude the opinion with something like this:  
    Your duty to provide fire alarm services starts and ends with your customer.  Your customer directed you to terminate fire alarm services and that's what you should do.  You are not a utility service governed by tariffs and unless you are in a very unique jurisdiction [and I don't know of any] you are not required to continue fire alarm monitoring under these circumstances.  I would add, if you provided any certificate of service [to an insurance company for example] or filed anything with the AHJ that you were monitoring the system or you inspected the system and it's operational, I would notify them [ins co and AHJ] that service is terminated.
    I think there are other considerations, though I am not so sure they have been enacted into any law, adopted by any AHJ or suggested by regulatory agencies.  If you are installing or monitoring fire alarm systems you most likely have a license.  The law usually equates license with privilege; you've been approved to do whatever the license permits.  So driving a car isn't your right, it's a privilege and your license and privilege can be revoked by the AHJ who granted the license.  Same with your fire alarm license or whatever license you hold that permits you to engage in your business activities.  Suspending or revoking the privilege may be more subjective that you, the license holder, would hope for.  Clerks and others with authority have different ways of interpreting the rules they are invested with enforcing.  Underlying all expected conduct is that one act reasonably.  Often that standard is reviewed after the fact, retroactively, when what should have been done is a little clearer.  So if you terminate fire alarm monitoring and there is a fire, depending on the kind and type of damages, loss of property or life, someone looking back may have an opinion of how you should have handled the termination of service.
    With that in mind, in the scenario you have presented, I would suggest notifying the property owner and the adjoining tenants in the building, as well as the AHJ and anyone else you let know you were providing the service, that fire alarm monitoring services for the premises will be terminate on a date and time set by you.  You should then terminate service on that date in accordance with your notice.
    Make sure you retain your notices and the 
Fire All in One agreement, which I hope you have, and you'll hope you have if you end up getting sued if there is a fire.
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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
ken@kirschenbaumesq.com
516 747 6700
www.KirschenbaumEsq.com