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Comment on Central station no longer reporting low battery signals
December 18, 2023
Comment on Central station no longer reporting low battery signals from article on December 11, 2023
          Since 1980 I have forensically investigated alarm and/or security related cases and claims across the country for both Plaintiffs and Defendants, where in many cases, and without the knowledge, consent, and authority of the subscriber, a signal/condition was set for log only. Thereafter, a loss occurred, and a legal nexus was claimed that but for notification to the subscriber the loss could not and/or would not have occurred. At the same time the Professional and Technical Community of the Alarm and Central Station industry represents that they provide 24-Hour 365-Day Monitoring, not selective monitoring.
          Against the foregoing backdrop, log only and/or suppression methods can increase liability. Additionally, the liability does not exclusively apply to fire alarm systems; it runs the broad-spectrum incorporating burglar alarm systems, central station communications, Panic and PERS systems.
          Any Central Station who decides that they no longer want to adhere to this duty should be told in writing by the alarm dealer that they object, and unless you receive written confirmation from the President of the Central Station, the dealer should strongly consider switching its Central Station Monitoring to another company. In the meanwhile, the dealer should demand that no changes are made to their dispatch and notification instructions.
          Notwithstanding, Ken should always be consulted either directly or through their concierge service program so that you can proactively get the proper legal advice based on your circumstances.
          Finally, it belies logic that a Central Station would knowingly not want to provide these notifications.
Jeffrey D. Zwirn, CPP, CFPS, CFE, SET, FASI&T, CHPA-IV, MBAT, NFPA 3000(PS), President 
IDS Research & Development, Incorporated 
46 West Clinton Avenue 
Tenafly, New Jersey 07670 
Phone: 201-227-2559
          I agree with Jeff’s analysis and recommendations.  Failure to communicate to the subscriber that the alarm system is “in trouble”, generally meaning not working or at least not working as intended, is asking for trouble.  While Jeff opines that alarm companies should welcome the opportunity to communicate with customers, I also agree with Morgan that customers don’t necessarily want to be called in the middle of the night because of a low battery signal, especially if the alarm is still operational.  Maybe that call can wait until morning unless the subscriber runs round the clock.  No home owner wants a call in the middle of the night unless it’s really an emergency.
          What if a “trouble” signal something that might end up being an actual emergency event, such as loss of electric caused by thieves getting ready to enter a premises as opposed to a common outage?  Then the call in the middle of the night might save lives or property.  This is tough call, but it’s your business and service, so you have to make it. 
          The next question might be who should be making it; the central station or the dealer or the subscriber?  Seems to me of that list it’s the subscriber and dealer who should be making the policy on the call, not the central station.  This is especially so if the central station is seeking to impose policy contrary to NRTL recommendations, or recommendations from an expert like Jeff Zwirn.  Certainly erring on the side of caution would mandate making the call, not just logging the event.

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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