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Fire Marshal's complains about ADT and UL lack of oversight


Fire Marshal called to discuss what he believes is persistent ADT failure to handle fire alarms properly, UL's lack of oversight,  He wonders why UL certificates aren't pulled for UL violations and failure's described below.  Here are his comments:



    It was a pleasure talking to you and I’d like to contribute the attached correspondence your forum concerning ADT’s failure to correctly recognize & dispatch a water flow signal to the local communications center.

Yours truly,

Captain Frank J. Herrick

Fire Sprinklers Save Lives, Property, the Environment, and Water - Protect what you value most!

Fire Prevention Specialist 

Fire Department  

Leawood, KS


Mr. Smith ,

    Last Friday the 17th I inspected your fire alarm system at xxxx East Road, unfortunately the central station (ADT) which provides monitoring of your system did not follow the correct procedure upon receiving a fire alarm signal, specifically the central station must immediately retransmit the alarm signal to the communications center.

    When the water flow switch was activated ADT central station called back to the premise to confirm the alarm signal, this action is called an Alarm Signal Verification and is not permitted within this jurisdiction and for that reason the system failed.

    It's important for you as the business owner to know that the fire alarm itself was installed professionally and in accordance with the applicable codes and standards, the failure is with your central service provider.

    Please call me ASAP for a retest of the system once you have contacted ADT regarding this issue.

Yours truly,

Captain Frank J. Herrick



NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code 2013 Edition

26.2 General.

26.2.1 Alarm Signal Disposition. Except as permitted by 26.2.2 and, all fire alarm signals received by a supervising station shall be immediately retransmitted to the communications center.

26.2.2 Alarm Signal Preverification. (Not Permitted in this jurisdiction) Where alarm signal verification is required by the responsible fire department, the supervising station shall immediately notify the communications center that a fire alarm signal has been received and verification is in process. Verification shall meet the requirements of 26.2.3.

26.2.3 Alarm Signal Verification. (Not Permitted in this jurisdiction) For applications other than those addressed under the scope of, supervising station personnel shall attempt to verify alarm signals prior to reporting them to the communication center where all the following conditions exist:

(1)*Alarm signal verification is required by the responsible fire department for a specific protected premises.

(2) Documentation of the requirement for alarm signal verification is provided by the responsible fire department to the supervising station and the protected premises.

(3) If the requirement for verification changes, the responsible fire department shall notify the supervising station and the protected premises.

(4)*The verification process does not take longer than 90 seconds from the time the alarm signal is received at the supervising station until the time that retransmission of the verified alarm signal is initiated.

(5) Verification of the alarm signal is received only from authorized personnel within the protected premises.

(6)*Verified alarm signals are immediately retransmitted to the communications center and include information that the signal was verified at the protected premises to be an emergency.

(7)*Alarm signals where verification is not conclusive are immediately retransmitted to the communications center.

(8) Alarm signals that are verified as nuisance alarms are not dispatched and are handled in accordance with* Alarm signals not reported to the communications center shall be reported to the responsible fire department in a manner and at a frequency specified by the responsible fire department.

26.2.4 Alarm Signal Content. Where required by the enforcing authority, governing laws, codes, or standards, alarm signals transmitted to a supervising station shall be by addressable device or zone identification.

26.3.7 Personnel. The central station shall have not less than two qualified operators on duty at the central station at all times to ensure disposition of signals in accordance with the requirements of 26.3.8. Operation and supervision shall be the primary functions of the operators, and no other interest or activity shall take precedence over the protective service.

26.3.8 Disposition of Signals. Alarm Signals. Alarm signals initiated by manual fire alarm boxes, automatic fire detectors, waterflow from the automatic sprinkler system, or actuation of other fire suppression system(s) or equipment shall be treated as fire alarms. The central station shall perform the following actions: (1)*Retransmit the alarm to the communications center in accordance with 26.2.1.

(2) Dispatch a runner or technician to the protected premises to arrive within 2 hours after receipt of a signal if equipment needs to be manually reset by the prime contractor. Except where prohibited by the authority having jurisdiction, the runner or technician shall be permitted to be recalled prior to arrival at the premises if a qualified representative of the subscriber at the premises can provide the necessary resetting of the equipment and is able to place the system back in operating condition.

(3) Immediately notify the subscriber.

(4) Provide notice to the subscriber or authority having jurisdiction, or both, if required. Exception: If the alarm signal results from a prearranged test, the actions specified by and (3) shall not be required. Retransmission. Indication of a fire shall be promptly retransmitted to the communications center or other locations accepted by the authority having jurisdiction, indicating the building or group of buildings from which the alarm has been received.


Correspondence with Underwriters Laboratories:

Subject: RE: Fire Alarm Failure                                   January 27, 2014



I thought I would update you on my investigation. I have the attention of upper level management at ADT.

We are working through a process to get the message to the alarm operator level, that alarm verification is only allowed where approved by the AHJ.

I'll keep you updated.



Bob,                                                                                  January 30, 2014

I’d like to thank you for the effort you put forth concerning this issue. A UL listed Central Station is the “nerve center” for any metropolitan fire department. if that vital link is not working as it should, the end result could very well mean the difference between minor property damage or a destroyed business.

Worse yet, the lives of the citizens we serve are also imperiled, as well as the firefighters and police.

Unfortunately, I have found a number of court case where ADT did not transmit or process a received alarm signal, this has occurred with both residential fire & burglary and commercial systems.

It’s inconceivable to me the upper management of ADT was ignorant of these numerous violations of their UL certificate listing.

I’ve restricted my search to cases with in the five years; court cases within ten years would have filled a number of pages. It’s apparent that to any reasonable fire code official that this company is not capable of providing a reliable central service system.  

Your thoughts, opinions and comments would be much appreciated.

Yours truly,

Captain Frank J. Herrick




ADT "failed to exercise ordinary care by not taking the proper steps and by failing to notify the proper public authorities as well as the church in a timely manner."


2.  US Fire Insurance Company v. ADT SECURITY SERVICES, INC., Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 2nd Dist. 2013


However, ADT did not notify M.A. Federal that the backup system was no longer transmitting signals to   ADT's monitoring service.




The jury made that finding and awarded damages for the loss of the warehouse by a fire set by burglars who were in the building for hours, setting off repeated alarms which the monitors failed to heed and report.  


4. BAHRINGER v. ADT SECURITY SERVICES, INC., Dist. Court, D. South Carolina 2013


Bahringer alleges that his ADT-monitored smoke detectors failed to alert either him or ADT to the fire; indeed, ADT was unaware of the fire until Bahringer notified them after the fact. Id. 6-8. ADT did not receive any signals from the smoke detectors in Bahringer's house on the night of the fire.


5. Lawson v. ADT SECURITY SERVICES, INC., 899 F. Supp. 2d 1335 - Dist. Court, MD Georgia 2012


During the fire, ADT failed to contact the police, fire department, or any emergency contacts Lawson provided to ADT, contrary to the terms of the Alarm Services Contract


 6. Valenzuela v. ADT SECURITY SERVICES, Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit 2012


Although ADT failed properly to install Valenzuela's alarm system and failed to provide notification services       when it actually received an alarm signal from the system.


7. ABACUS FED. SAV. v. ADT SEC., 967 NE 2d 666 - NY: Court of Appeals 2012


Specifically, ADT's contract with Abacus obligated ADT to install and maintain a 24-hour industry-certified central station security system to protect the branch premises and the vault. Within the vault, ADT purported to utilize certain detectors that would identify intruder movement and the presence of smoke. ADT's security system was supposedly designed to transmit any alarm signals triggered in the vault to ADT's central monitoring system.





 9. JOHN and ELAINE ROSE and STATE FARM INSURANCE COMPANY as subrogee of the ROSES, Appellants, v. ADT SECURITY SERVICES, INC., Appellees. CASE NO.: 1D06-3263


On June 17, 2000, the Roses' house caught fire, presumably after being struck by lightning. The ADT smoke alarms in the house failed to transmit a fire alarm signal and the house burned to the ground.




Plaintiff Nirvana International, Inc.  It hired Defendant ADT Security Services, Inc. To install an alarm system in Plaintiff's jewelry store. Defendant did, but the alarm didn't go off when burglars came, and Plaintiff was relieved of $2.4 million in merchandise.


comment on adding to Core and Shell Fire Alarm system



I believe the CORE AND SHELL refers to the physical exterior walls of the building and the CORE of the building at the time of installation.  The modification referred to sounds like an AFTER CONNSTRUCTION FIT UP of a tenant space or a renovation of an existing already installed space.  In the case the moving of existing horns and strobes and or pull boxes would be required.

The installing company may have a contractual lock on the equipment and a  lock on all future modifications with the landlord to do any and all modifications in the future. ( I know I would try for that...)  (Adding horns and strobes would alter the BATTERY CALCULATIONS also.)

You are correct though without knowing what is already in writing we can only guess...

Joel Kent

FBN Security Windsor CT


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