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Alarm company disagrees with AHJ and customer over fire alarm
July 15 2023
Alarm company disagrees with AHJ and customer over fire alarm
          Our company has recently contracted with an HOA operating several newly constructed condominium buildings plus a clubhouse. Each building has multiple condo units. We are not the installing contractor. These were built between 2020 and 2022 under modern fire codes. The installation was provided by the electrician who doesn't monitor or maintain and we were contracted to provide inspections, monitoring, and service. We are not aware of who provided the design.
          The installations were inspected and approved by AHJ and a Certificate of Occupancy was issued. 
          We come to provide inspections and testing and find that over half of everything is installed wrong. Interior devices are installed outdoors and exposed to the weather. These devices are not even required by any code but it seems as if some salesman saw an opportunity to sell the devices and install them in illegal locations and somehow the AHJ found it acceptable.
          I have brought this to the attention of the Management Company, The Homeowners Association and the Authority. All have been notified in writing,  I have cited codes illustrating the incorrect installations and provided letters from the manufacturer confirming the incorrect use of the hardware. The manufacturer’s position is that the installation voids the warranties.
          Now these devices are failing as predicted. There is a sentiment in the Fire Alarm community that the last technical person who touches the system becomes responsible for the system's flaws and ills. Even though the installation was approved by AHJ, I am not comfortable silently accepting these glaring errors as "Good Enough".   I feel that if I replace the illegal and inappropriate hardware which have been damaged by the incorrect environment with new hardware I am accepting the incorrect system as good enough while it is a designed in failure impacting system reliability and durability and a serious threat to life safety.
          No one other than myself has an interest in this being installed so poorly that 18 month old hardware is failing.  I feel that if I choose to repair the flaw that I am at least doing an illegal action and certainly contributing to the lack of reliability. While we have a contract to provide service, I feel that considering the installation is clearly illegal it will also be illegal for me to provide a repair. I have identified all 198 faults and deficiencies on the required annual testing reports. 
          How concerned should I be about this? 
Jersey Jerry
          Your customer should have signed a Fire All in One with the Inspection, Repair Service and Monitoring boxes checked, because that’s what you have agreed to provide.  This customer [and all take over customers] should have signed a Disclaimer Notice and it’s in that Disclaimer Notice where you would have noted that you did an inspection, or didn’t, and noticed deficiencies and the customer told you to leave them.
          Apparently the manufacturer agrees with you that the devices should not have been used outdoors.  However, your conclusion that the fire alarm is therefore illegal is less reasoned.  In point of fact the AHJ has approved the installation.
          Fire alarm experts please correct me [or confirm] – the AHJ is the law when it comes to the fire alarm and therefore if the AHJ approved the plans and approved the installation that system cannot be, by definition, illegal. 
          You are right to document your position regarding the fire alarm components.  However, you had the opportunity to inspect the system before committing to a Service Plan.  You can correctly continue to point out whatever deficiencies you believe exist in the fire alarm in your Inspection Reports, unless and until the AHJ tells you to stop, in writing.  But you have agreed to repair the system, so you do have to repair the outdoor components, unless you deem them to have reached end of life or are obsolete.  As matter of fact if these components are required by the AHJ you are required to replace them because any change would require new plans and approval process. 
          I suppose you could take the “high ground” and refuse to have anything to do with this fire alarm and this customer.  There are plenty other fire alarm expert companies willing to provide the services.  I think you’ve done all that you could to bring the issue to the customer and AHJ. 
          You might want to remind the customer that you’re waiting for its insurance certificate naming you additional insured.  If you don’t get it then you can send the Fire All in One to K&K’s collection department and wash your hands of the customer.

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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