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More on residential fire panels and Zwirn’s warning / Fire alarm contract protection
February 23, 2021
More on residential fire panels and Zwirn’s warning
          Thank you for hosting the Jeff Zwirn webinar on February 16, 2021; such a great and informative event. 
          Do you think that a class action lawsuit against these alarm manufacturers would be a good idea?  If not, why not?  If so, would you be interested in taking the case?
          As an alarm dealer who has virtually 100% of these systems already installed, chosen by the fact that their cut sheets show they were UL Listed, I am more than a little concerned that I could have some liability, if there ware a fatality in a fire. 
          Please note that these systems are installed both in residential and commercial occupancies. Of course, I service them as needed, as well as performing the tests and inspections, as required. None of those will “catch” the UL Listing non-compliance issue, however. 
          Furthermore, why should it even be my responsibility to check that they are, in fact, compliant? Isn’t the cut sheet showing the UL Listing enough to keep me out of court? Or, at least reasonably free from liability if served with a notice to appear?
          It was enough for the Fire Sub Code Official to approve the permit, when I applied upon the start (or prior to the start) of the job. 
          You can watch the Zwirn webinar at
          There is no class action or any action at this point.  First of all, as I understand it the panels continue to have UL listing.  If it turns out that one of these panels in a residential system [because I believe Jeff indicated that there is no similar issue with commercial fire panels] fails as predicted by Jeff, and there is a loss of property or life, and a lawsuit is commenced, and the plaintiff hires Jeff, then the manufacturer may very well have a tough case on its hands.  A installer would face the same tough defense if the dealer was aware of the deficiencies Jeff has been discussing, if the plaintiff can prove the dealer was aware of the deficiencies and if it’s determined by the trier of the facts, judge or jury, that Jeff’s correct.
          As long as UL and the manufacturers stand by the products you can probably continue to use them.  If however UL de-lists or the manufacturer issues a recall then it’s going to be your problem to notify your customers and most likely replace the product.  In view of Jeff’s warnings your customers would have a good case to demand that you bear the cost of replacement.
          At this point dealers are really in the middle.  That is actually an interesting way to look at it.  Are dealers really in the middle?  Middle would imply that the contrary positions are evenly balanced.  On one side we have UL and the manufacturers; on the other, Jeff Zwirn and any other fire alarm experts who may agree with him.  Maybe a rock and a hard place better describes it; between the devil and the deep blue sea. 
          Is this really a Hobson’s Choice?  Are there any alternatives?  Does every residential panel that has fire zones suffer from the same issues Jeff raises? 
          From what I understand neither UL nor the manufacturers have adequately addressed Jeff’s concerns.  If true that is odd because this issue is not, apparently, going away and as more dealers are confronted with the information and choices the more of an issue this is likely to become.
          Both UL and the manufacturers are encouraged email in and have their positions circulated on this forum.
Fire alarm contract protection
          The Residential All in One covers all security and fire systems.  Building codes do not, generally, address fire components except in new construction or sometimes when homes are sold.  The standards for residential fire are not the same as commercial fire, though without question the consequences of alarm failure can be just as catastrophic.
          It’s particularly frustrating for installers when there are conflicting opinions from reliable sources about equipment use and problems.  What installers can do right now is make sure they use proper contracts for providing alarm services.  This also includes all forms of security services; you need to use a proper contract in order to have the most protection a contract can provide.
          The Residential All in One should be signed by every residential customer, no matter what alarm or security services you are providing.  Even if you are providing Repair Service on request, per call service, get the Residential All in One signed.  Same if you are only doing monitoring.  If your customer won’t sign, don’t do business with the customer.  I don’t care how big the job is or what the monthly is, no residential account is worth taking the chance, the added risk, of providing your services without contract protection. 
          If you don’t have an updated Residential All in One, and the Disclaimer Notice that I recommend you get signed with it, you’re being foolish [and I’m being kind].  Would you send your techs to the job with an old shoddy ladder?  You would because you have workers comp so who cares?  Geez, you’re an idiot and best of all, you know it.
          Your residential customers need a Residential All in One for your protection; protection from liability; protection from potential buyers of your accounts offering in the 20s instead of 30s multiple; protection from accounts that don’t want to pay you; protection from central stations who don’t want to monitor your accounts and from insurance companies who won’t insure you.  Enough said.  Order now:

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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