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Should you engage and pay the fire engineer
March 10, 2020
Should you engage and pay the fire engineer
            We recently purchased the Fire All in One contract from you and a question came up as we were preparing one.
            With respect to the fire engineer’s fee, are we better off paying for it on the clients behalf (and being reimbursed) thereby retaining ownership and control of the designs, or to have the client pay for the designs?
            I am curious as to your thoughts
            Some frame of reference for those of you not in New York.  In many parts of the country and alarm company is authorized to prepare and submit plans and specifications to the fire AHJ for permit and approval; that’s not the case in New York, where fire alarm plans and specs need to be prepared and stamped by a licensed professional engineer or architect.  In many instances the alarm company has the relationship with the customer and with the PE, and it’s the alarm company who agrees to engage the PE and get the plans approved.  Those of you who prepare and stamp your own plans, or who are in areas where there are no plans, permits or approval, even for fire alarms, you may not appreciate the issue.
            I am not sure that an assumption made above is accurate regarding ownership of the plans just because you paid the PE. I think those plans are the property of the PE, not you or the customer.
            So the next issue is whether you want to take responsibility for the performance of the PE. If you’re brought the PE in and the customer really doesn’t understand that the PE is independent, then the subscriber will likely look to hold you responsible for mistakes anyway.  The issue is, should the PE be your subcontractor or engaged independently by the subscriber?  
            Maybe I am not considering all the factors, but I think I’d prefer to have the subscriber engage the PE separately.  That way the subscriber shouldn’t look to you if the plans have to go through several versions or if the AHJ finds errors later and demands changes.  Let’s hear from the fire alarm guys – what’s your practice and preference?

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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