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GC using your specs to shop job and can another alarm co connect to your fire alarm
February 20, 2023
GC using your specs to shop job and can another alarm co connect to your fire alarm
          We have a very good customer who is in the property management business. We Monitor, Annual Fire Alarm Inspections and service their security and fire alarm systems at their properties. One property has just started undergoing a demolition and new build-out on one side of the building. We monitor the fire alarm for this building. Long story short, we were brought in at the last minute. We have performed the design of altering the existing system for the new build-out by adding initiating devices, A/V, etc. to conform to the local AHJ and NFPA 72 code. Our drawings have been submitted and we have received a stamped approval and permit issued by the local AHJ.
          The General Contractor went into sticker shock when he saw the quote from our property management customer. The GC had performed a budgetary number for the new tenant initially before we were brought in. The GC did not include all of the new smoke detectors, A/V, etc. that are required per code. The GC was far below where they needed to be.
          I have received word that the GC is now going to price this out to another company. They may be utilizing our drawing and design for this. In speaking with the property manager, I mentioned that we cannot allow another company to come in and alter our system, perform programming, etc. due to liability, etc.
          My question is, where does our company stand in this situation if the GC decides he wants to use another company if they decide low ball their quote?
          We utilize the Standard Fire All in One for our fire alarm contracts.
 Best Regards,
Name withheld
          The GC did not do a “take off” for the alarm system and underpriced it.  Property Manager, as agent for the Owner, brings you in and your estimate is beyond the GC’s budget.  GC is using your specs to shop the job, something you could have prevented had you required the GC to sign a Confidentiality Agreement for Estimates and Specifications [a Standard Kirschenbaum Contract™].
          Your explanation to the GC regarding liability issues is OK but the better argument is that the Owner [through the Property Manager agent] is under contract with you for fire alarm services and no one is permitted to work on that system other than you; no one can connect new devices or replace existing devices.
          What you don’t mention is what term is left on your contract.  Your hold on the Owner is only as good as the contract.  If you leased the fire alarm then the hold is more or less permanent unless you sell the Owner the system. 
          The GC is really between a rock and hard place.  The GC is stuck with its contract with the Owner and the Owner is stuck with its contract with you. 
          I was about to end this with “let us know how it works out” but there is really more to this than the contract.  You start by describing the Property Manager [and I assume you meant the property manager and not the owner] as a very good customer.  I’m not sure your criteria for a very good customer, ie pays timely, gives you lots of jobs, etc,
          I’d say the GC and Property Manager should share the blame for the mess they are now in [it’s not your mess unless you give up the contract or drop your price]; both should have known there was a fire alarm system and both should have known that it was under a contract. 
          Now I’ll end with let us know how it works out

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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