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Third party fire alarm inspection reports and recordkeeping

June 7, 2022
Third party fire alarm inspection reports and recordkeeping
          I have recently been receiving communication from city fire departments “Requiring” us to upload our fire inspection reports to a third party (at our expense.)
          I have called one department to inquire if this is mandated by City Ordinance and have not heard back from the department (I did receive a phone call from the third party explaining how easy it is and that they “believe” the City is requiring this under the International Building Code, which lets the AHJ determine how records must be kept.
          First: If we are contracted with the building owner to perform the annual fire alarm inspection does the information become “work product?” Are we obligated to deliver this information to a third party and pay this third party to receive our reports? Or should we jealously guard our customer’s data (that could be used for all kinds of bad things)?
          Second: Under the Building Code the building owner is “responsible” for things like annual inspections, maintenance, etc. Wouldn’t that make the building owner responsible for submitting these reports (and paying for them)? I believe that if the businesses in these cities had to sign up and start paying these fees there would probably be some discussion at city hall!
          Third: Under Oklahoma’s licensing law fire alarm companies are required to submit to the AHJ, in writing, notification of any fire alarm that has been “red-tagged” within 24 hours, or “yellow-tagged” within 72 hours of the inspection. Are we meeting the state law requirement if we submit this information to a private company in Idaho or are we still required to meet the statute by sending the written report to the AHJ.
          I had considered mentioning the possibility of a monopoly, since the private company was the only one operating in Oklahoma, but I have recently received notifications of others. There seems to be only one per jurisdiction so I wonder if they bid for the exclusive right to take our money.
          Thank you for everything that you do,
 Steve L
          Third party administrators was discussed in a few earlier articles which can be found on K&K’s website under Articles, using the search feature for Administrators.
          If the AHJ is mandating use of a third party which will add expense you are permitted to pass this expense to the subscriber [if you have a Kirschenbaum Contract™]  Also, if the AHJ has new inspection requirements not contemplated in the Fire All in One you have the right to charge for those additional services that are now required. 
          The inspection report you are required to file with the AHJ, or with the third party administrator, may be a different report of form than you provide to the subscriber.  You are only required to provide the information demanded by the AHJ form; your inspection report may have other items on it that would not go to the AHJ. As far as who is responsible for filing reports or dealing with third party administrators, or the AHJ, that is something you should probably keep in mind for new subscriber contracts. 
          Regarding what you have to do in Oklahoma you should check with the AHJ for how you are to comply; may as well get the advice from the horses mouth.   
          I am not familiar with the International Building Codes, or state building codes, though I am not surprised by efforts to standardize reports and submissions.  It does appear that a cottage industry of third party administrators has arisen; something else I am not familiar with.  The last article on this was in 2012 and there must be a lot more information now. 
          Can anyone comment on this issue?

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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