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More comment on Should fire system designer share in liability if there is loss/coverage for willful misconduct
July 17,  2024
Comment on Should fire system designer share in liability if there is loss/coverage for willful misconduct from article on June 17, 2024
I just had to ‘jump in’ regarding the lack of design for fire protection. BE SURE TO HAVE AN A&E with PROPER certifications STAMP any and ALL Plans. Don’t just try to bypass that phase of the process as I heard of a Dealer who just presented the prints to the city he had ‘designed’
and got nailed several THOUSANDS of dollars.
As he was NOT an A&E and was trying to save a few bucks or perhaps Time, as we ALL have been under time constraint pressures of get it DONE NOW.
Just my 5-cents (*used to be 2, but with inflation and all!!)  
Joseph (Joe) Pfefer, Founder & C.E.O.
Jade Alarm Co.
            The Fire All in One is the appropriate contract for commercial fire alarm sale, installation and after-install RMR services [monitoring, inspection, repair].  That contract makes it crystal clear that you are recommending that the fire alarm system be designed and installed in compliance with applicable building and fire alarm codes.  That usually requires filing plans and specifications of the system with the AHJ, typically the Fire Marshal, building department or fire department.  Plans need to be stamped [not sure if this applies in all jurisdictions], and the law will specify who is authorized to stamp or file the plans.  In New York only an architect or engineer [and I think a land surveyor] is authorized to file plans.  In other states, and even in some areas in New York, plans may be prepared and filed by the fire alarm company and in some places plans, permits and inspections are either not required or there is no enforcement of the law available. 
            Many of you rely on independent services to design and file plans and specifications for fire alarms.  Either you or the subscriber is engaging the architect, engineer or designer [if authorized to stamp or sign the plans].  If you engage the independent party you should be asking a very simple question:  “do you have insurance and how much”.  That should be followed with “add us – the fire alarm company – as an additional insured”. Why?  Because a designer, architect or engineer who is negligent in the performance of their undertaking should be, and is, liable for losses proximately caused by the negligence.
            You are relying on the plans and specifications for several reasons.  First, you base your contract price on the scope of the job and equipment needed for completion.  Second, if you need AHJ approval and permit mistakes in plans or specifications will hold up the approval; that’s one problem.  The other problem is that mistakes may not be found until the job is underway, perhaps installed, and the AHJ decides that there are mistakes or something else is required.  Customers who are required to add to the system, replace equipment and pay more money are generally not happy about it, unless it’s the customer who requested the change order adding to the job.
            Don’t be shy about asking about the insurance.  I suspect you may be surprised to find out how many architects and engineers, or designers, don’t carry any insurance or enough insurance.  You should think twice about working with any independent contractor who doesn’t have insurance.
            You should also be aware that any subcontractor you engage will have the protection of your Fire All in One because that’s precisely what the Fire All in One provides.  Be sure your Fire All in One is updated.  Avoid having your company go up in flames [and maximize the equity value of the contract by using the Fire All in One].

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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