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Comments on local fire departments offering monitoring services

June 3, 2022
Comments on local fire departments offering monitoring services from May 23, 2022
          This is disturbing on so many levels
          The only way for private alarm companies to survive without the RMR from commercial fire would be to charge Astronomical prices for service.
           Can somebody say $500 an hour!! Or $3500 for an NFPA 72 test!!
          Or we will unfortunately have to wait for a breakdown of a system because nobody is servicing and overseeing activity (or lack of activity) and people will have to sacrifice their life(s) in a fire fatality, in order to bring attention to this!
          The world needs attention to detail when it comes to life safety
          I trust a company over the government 
          I would first of all like to thank you for the 10s of thousands of dollars of free legal advice to the alarm audience.
          Your newsletter confirms the saying only a fool represents himself in court. We do alarm installations where your magic is in the legal system.
          Several corrections need to be made to this blog.
          Rockland County formerly went direct as Fire Reporting systems have done for 100 years,  Mr. Salvatore Conti of Global Systems NICET IV , MBA Computer Science proposed a direct replacement for a UL listed Keltron Mesh network Radio reporting system.  After the concept was approved and budgeted a local central station company took over all the Rockland County Accounts and added the AES Mesh network solution proposed by Mr. Conti over a 1 year period. Rockland County was transitioned from direct connect to thru a central station. Which technology for speed of transmission superiority remains to be tested as stopwatch verification is going on as we speak during this time of reduced time to respond due to more flammable materials in households i.e. Plastics.
          The writer does not have a comprehension of municipal reporting as all Fire Alarm reporting nationally was originally done by coded dedicated wiring.  Today Chicago uses this time honored system with no internet or cellular downtime direct, battery backed up and city maintained fixed Morse code derived system.  The dialers were accepted in the 70’s on one of the projects I was involved in Detroit whose overall municipal infrastructure was destroyed by theft and corruption.
          In order to get a major General Motors Plant upgrade open in new construction a municipal fire connection had to be made.
          No municipal connection could be arranged with the bankrupt city of Detroit. A Security Dialer was offered as a solution for reporting. As no UL listing existed on Dialers existed at that time, the answer was unacceptable without a listing. General Motors responded , “ If UL cannot provide a UL listed fire dialer we will set up our own test lab in Detroit”  Two weeks later a UL listed fire dialer was available to the fire world and the formerly security only central stations were in the fire reporting business where municipalities had previously maintained and received alarm signals directly.
          The Coded signals mentioned are the IMSA worldwide standards for Fire Signaling standardized by William Morse among others and operational to this day.
The Dialer telephony codes are today unlike previous MA Bell times are continuously changed by the carriers without notice.
          The recent change of the Telephony Codec from G711 to G711.1 obsoleted and made non-reporting 1000 accounts for one of my customers overnight into his Osbourne receiver without any notification from the carrier.  Ken, I do not have to explain the legal exposure this massive failure of life-safety reporting equipment presents.
               We went through this is Massachusetts in 2009 when the City of Springfield MA wanted to mandate the radio master boxes only and directly to their fire station for monitoring. I have attached the complaint and the final judgement from the State Superior Court in Massachusetts.
George C
          This sounds like an issue that is beyond the capabilities of a single alarm company to fight and is the primary reason that we have alarm associations. 
Anonymous does not state where he is located or if his company is a member of an alarm association.  If not, join now and get the association involved, as this will affect more than just his company. The dues for joining might be the best investment he makes this year. 
Joe Hayes
          Total horse manure. Fire departments need to get out of the monitoring systems just like the police departments wised up and did long ago and allow the professional to handle this. My experience with departments in our area is they lack the needed training, not held to the same UL standards as private central stations; don’t keep system account reporting history and most importantly thing is they have ZERO liability if/when things go wrong.
 Jason A
          I didn’t hear from a single alarm professional who thought fire departments would do a better job than professional monitoring centers.  Another obvious issue is that fire departments are not going to perform installation, inspection or service; the fire departments need the private fire alarm industry for that.  I agree with sentiments of DB that if you remove the monitoring revenue the alarm industry will need to make that lost revenue up when pricing the other fire alarm services, installation, service, inspection and in some places, runner service.  If that’s how this plays out then the ultimate loser will be the fire alarm customers who will be paying more for the added government services.  I haven’t seen any statistics but I think any fire department will be hard pressed to establish that it will perform and serve the public better by getting direct signals.  There are many factors contributing to the fire department arriving on the scene and starting to detain the fire.  Another minute for the signal to arrive at the fire station is highly unlikely to make a difference.
another comment
          If the Fire Dept. offered EMT Services, or any type of health care wouldn’t this fall under the Stark Law?  If it would, I believe they would have to offer this a Market Rate?
Paul L
          You don’t mean Stark Law, which prohibits physicians from referring Medicare beneficiaries to an entity in which they (or an immediate family member) have a financial relationship (including compensation and ownership relationships) for designated health services unless an exception applies.  Essentially it prohibits kick-backs among health care providers for referring patients. 
          You meant HIPAA, which applies to covered entities. Covered entities include: Health Plans, including health insurance companies, HMOs, company health plans, and certain government programs that pay for health care, such as Medicare and Medicaid.  HIPAA privacy rule protects all "individually identifiable health information" held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral.
          It doesn’t appear that EMT or fire department is a covered entity; neither are alarm companies or central stations.
            With no daily auto-tests, that is an accident waiting to happen and I am sure the insurance industry would want to chime in on this. Also, who is the Prime Contractor? With what UL entity do they have a monitoring contract?
            When the government goes at it alone, it will always be a fiasco. A private-public partnership will always produce a better outcome.  In the Chicagoland area, there are more than a dozen municipal ordinances requiring a single-source monitoring provider to route signals/make notifications to the local Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP.) Emerency24 is a leader in this market in partnership with AHJs, alarm contractors, PSAPs and Keltron.
            Under this model, EM24 receives all alarm signals in a jurisdiction, handles putting accounts in/out of test, and our Monitors make the voice notifications to the Subscriber and Parties. Additionally, we send an electronic dispatch message directly into the PSAP’s Keltron LS700 for CAD dispatch. The PSAP sends an electronic acknowledgement that the data has been received. If no electronic acknowledgement is received within X seconds, our Monitors make a voice dispatch to the PSAP.  Note that this is a UL-Approved method, fully vetted.
            Additionally, we filter Trouble and Supervisories, per AHJ specifications, and AHJs can define/implement Storm Mode during inclement weather. AHJs also have access to push reports and secure online dashboards to help them gain a deeper understanding of the fire risks at commercial properties in their communities.
            The result is much greater efficiency: Hundreds of hours of PSAP Call-Taker labor saved a year; tens of thousands of avoided calls into the PSAP and hundreds of dispatches avoided. Those avoided runs make the community safer and lessens the possibility of injury on the road for first responders.
            Steve Mayer and I just presented this model at CAA Palm Springs Conference and recently at the Fire Code Academy and Life Safety Forum in Ohio.  We would be happy to share more with alarm companies and AHJs who are interested.
  My best regards,
Kevin Lehan
Director of National Sales and Marketing
Direct: 1-847-227-1440
Cell: 1-847-894-5423

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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