You can read all of our articles on our website. Having trouble getting our emails?  Change your spam controls and whitelist 

Additional thoughts and questions on cs operators working remotely 

May 11, 2024
Additional thoughts and questions on cs operators working remotely from article on May 1, 2024
          Your “hot” topic about remote operators for central station monitoring is an interesting one. Up until a relatively few years ago, remote monitoring wouldn’t have been possible so was not discussed. When COVID hit, the UL industry advisory committee, which I was on at the time, spent a tremendous amount of time coming up with a workable plan to enable the alarm industry to continue to provide uninterrupted service-despite the severe restrictions put on the work force due to COVID. The eventual standard that was developed for remote operators in times of an “emergency declaration” designation was very useful and safeguards were put in place.
          Having been on both the UL and NFPA committees, I understand what goes into these Codes and Standards as well as what’s involved in the operation of a central station and service in the field, having been involved in it for over 45 years. Having the flexibility, with proper safeguards, of remote operators could provide BETTER service to end users. How? Because if there is a bad storm or illness or other cause to keep workers from coming into the central station, a built in back up plan could be extremely helpful. I’m not indicating it should be a fulltime position but in certain scenarios (even if the monitoring center has standby back-up centers) having the ability to have remote workers sign in is a plus.
          You have been putting a lot of emphasis on the Central Station and the UL Listings. Why don’t you promote UL certification of installed alarm systems? In your May 1, 2024 post of Peter Goldring’s comments, he wrote “Standards and certifications are essential to keep this industry relevant. When we, as a profession, lower minimum standards it obviates our very existence.”
          I agree with Peter on this. But why is only the central station being mentioned. What about the systems that are installed in Subscriber’s premises? Why aren’t UL certificates being issued on these systems? I understand why some feel UL certification may not be needed for fire alarm systems because the local AHJ would sign off on them (of course, this doesn’t do anything to ensure continued inspection and maintenance). However, what about all the burglar alarm systems? Why aren’t UL certificates being issued on those? One reason is cost. The other reason is: why have an organization look over your operation if it’s not required?
          There’s a significant false alarm problem that’s faced the industry for decades. Maybe, if systems were installed according to the Standards, the false alarm issue would be reduced. Additionally, by having systems installed according to the relevant standard, the industry would weed out the “trunk slammers” and “scammers” that pop up every now and then to tarnish the alarm industry’s reputation. Other than cost or having to have UL (or other NRTL) oversee your operation and audit some systems in the field, why not make the minimum standard the norm by requiring UL certificates on systems? If issuing certificates on residential systems seems onerous, then start with issuing them on commercial systems (assuming the installation meets the minimum standard for the particular system).
          Here is a link to an article I wrote for Security Sales and Integration magazine for a more detailed look at this issue:
Richard Kleinman
Another comment
          Great to see the post from Peter Goldring in your May 1, 2024 article about central station operators working from home in another state.  Peter mentions possible tax issues and attaches an article from Payroll firm ADP which is on point and accurate.  When a company has a worker in another state it can raise some unique state income tax issues.  Some states will tax the worker where they are located, some states will tax the worker where the company is located, and the employer, and the worker, may be caught in a battle between both states.
          This brings up the subject of treating employees as independent contractors.  Many company owners are under the impression that, if they simply call the worker an independent contractor, they are somehow relieved from state, and federal, employment tax issues.  This may be one of the best examples of the saying that ignorance of the law is no excuse.  Sure, it is more convenient to just send a 1099 to that technician or operator who is in another state, but the state, and even the IRS may weigh in on this. Most business owners are aware of the tests that the IRS and States use to determine proper worker classification.  Many owners incorrectly believe that they can win an employee misclassification audit.  The IRS uses several tests to determine worker classification.  The one that they use most successfully is the Key Aspect test – Is the work being performed by the worker a Key Aspect of the business?  If the worker isn’t supplying a service that is not a Key Aspect of what the business does, then the worker is an employee.  I see this test successfully applied by the IRS when technicians are treated as contractors.  The Company does how to install and service an alarm system, so how would the technician be providing a service that is not a Key Aspect?  Don’t even think that an operator in a Central Station will be furnishing some unique service. 
          Glad to see Peter commenting and I look forward to more of his posts. 
Mitch Reitman 
817 698 9999 X 101
Reitman Consulting Group
Fort Worth, TX
          Thanks to Richard and Mitch for their perspectives, comments and suggestions. 
          UL certification, whatever its value [and I leave that up to the alarm professionals and experts] is something itemized in the Commercial All in One.  I think the issue is that most subscribers don’t want to pay for the service. That of course doesn’t excuse proper and professional installations.  However, I suspect that a good share of the false alarms is the result of user error rather than actual equipment failure, so UL certification won’t help.
          Having central station operators working from home so that they will be available in the event of a facility disaster seems like a pretty weak reason to me.  Homes can be compromised a lot quicker and lot more ways than a central station facility.  An area wide disaster is also more likely to disrupt homes more than the central station facility and even more likely to affect communication lines between homes and the central station.  Since the central station needs to be manned at all times a natural disaster that prevents workers from coming to work would likely prevent workers from leaving the central station and going home. 
          A great deal of money goes into building a central station; leaving it empty doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. 
          As far as redundancy I thought that UL required a back-up facility.  Operators working from home are not a back-up facility.
          Operator credentials are something that also needs to be considered.  Central stations require alarm licenses and employees may need their own license, registration or certification, depending on the jurisdiction.  Central stations are affected not only in the jurisdiction it is located but in all the jurisdictions that require a license for monitoring alarms.  Whether any of the jurisdictions address how operators are to be credentialed and supervised would need to be researched before comfortably adopting the work from home policy.
          There are a lot of issues that need to be considered, including but not limited to, liability concerns, taxes, insurance and licensing.  Difficulty finding operators or trimming the operator expense may end up being the least of your concerns.

STANDARD FORMS  Alarm /  Security / Fire and related Agreements
 click here:

CONCIERGE LAWYER SERVICE PROGRAM FOR THE ALARM INDUSTRY You can check out the program and sign up here: or contact our Program Coordinator Stacy Spector, Esq at 516 747 6700 x 304.
ALARM ARTICLES:  You can always read our Articles on our website at  updated daily             
THE ALARM EXCHANGE - the alarm industries leading classified and business exchange - updated daily
Wondering how much your alarm company is worth?  
Click here:
Getting on our Email List / Email Articles archived: 
    Many of you are forwarding these emails to friends or asking that others be added to the list.  Sign up for our daily newsletter here: Sign Up.  You can read articles and order alarm contracts on our web site

Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301