You can read all of our articles on our website. Having trouble getting our emails?   Change your spam controls and whitelist 

Reliability and standards of police and fire department monitoring
August 12, 2022
Reliability and standards of police and fire department monitoring from article on July 22, 2022
          In regards to: Whether Fire Dept monitoring is less reliable comments from article on July 22, 2022.
          There is a small municipality here in Cincinnati, I would rather not name, that does their own monitoring for fire and security. During a fire alarm update/install for a business in this municipality I was told that alarm monitoring was going to be done by their police department at no charge. Our customer gave me the name and number of their police department and was told they would provide the phone numbers of their digital receiver for programming into the fire panel. I did and they told me that they use the address of the building as the account number. I asked them how they handled trouble signals and failure of test signals and I was told, "We just ignore them; we only act on fire and burglary signals." I asked what kind of receiver they had and was told it was a silent knight earlier model. In NFPA 72 under disposition of signals it states how signals are to me handled by a central station and even states how much time they have to meet this requirement. In another part of this code it states that a central station acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction shall be used for monitoring.
          If the authority having jurisdiction is doing their own monitoring and is not providing what a UL listed central station is required to do to meet a certain standard, where does the checks and balances begin or stop? Who's watching the watchmen?  If a fire alarm system is not supervised as required and property damage or loss of life occurs who holds responsibility? I would think an insurance company that is a stake holder might not allow this type of "free" service and require the UL listed central station.       What are your thoughts?
Ron Baumann, NICET IV
Cincinnati, Ohio     
          Fire alarm experts, you included, may know NFPA 72 rules in detail, but they seem to apply to the central stations, not the police or fire department performing their own monitoring.  How those municipal services decide to deviate from alarm industry standards is likely up to them.  Obviously all the rules regarding time frame for reacting to a signal stops the moment the municipality is reached.  I am not aware of rules dictating how fast and in what manner the police or fire department is to respond.  Perhaps they have their own codes and guidelines.
          I haven’t researched the issue but I believe that when municipalities decide to engage in business they will likely be held to the same standards; they lose their immunity, though may still be able to hide behind other roadblocks to liability such as “notice of claim” which operates as a short [usually 30 or 90 day statute of limitations]. 
          It’s going to be interesting to see what happens when a large fire loss is suffered and it’s established that fire alarm monitoring contributed to the loss because of significant delay in dispatch or some other issue. 
          Can you image if the municipality was monitoring the Miami building collapse.  Just about every [maybe ever] trade involved in the building was included in the lawsuit and I understand that all the insurance carriers paid out policy limits.  Many municipalities don’t carry insurance, and they don’t have policy limits.  Wonder how that’s going to work out?
          I’d be curious if anyone knows the economics of municipalities undertaking the monitoring performance for police and fire.  I can’t believe it makes economic sense, I doubt it makes much if any difference in monitoring performance, it doesn’t eliminate the alarm dealer because police and fire don’t install, service [not yet at least] or even advise of trouble signals [apparently].  Add to that the chance that municipal monitoring can be provided economically and make enough difference to matter, which suspect is slim to none, and the potential for liability ….  doesn’t seem like a good idea.

To order up to date Standard Form Alarm /  Security / Fire and related Agreements click here:

To order up to date Standard Form Alarm /  Security / Fire and related Agreements click here:
CONCIERGE LAWYER SERVICE PROGRAM FOR THE ALARM INDUSTRY You can check out the program and sign up here: or contact our Program Coordinator Stacy Spector, Esq at 516 747 6700 x 304.
ALARM ARTICLES:  You can always read our Articles on our website at  updated daily             
THE ALARM EXCHANGE - the alarm industries leading classified and business exchange - updated daily
Wondering how much your alarm company is worth?  
Click here:
Getting on our Email List / Email Articles archived: 
    Many of you are forwarding these emails to friends or asking that others be added to the list.  Sign up for our daily newsletter here: Sign Up.  You can read articles and order alarm contracts on our web site

Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301