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What responsibility do you have for existing obsolete fire alarm on subscriber’s premises

May 11, 2023
What responsibility do you have for existing obsolete fire alarm on subscriber’s premises
          We have a client asking us to do a variety of projects at multiple properties. The original scope included some work on their antiquated fire system(s) following an incident where there was a malfunction. The customer is worried about the budget, and asked us to take it out. We spoke with the fire marshal, and he said we're fine as long as we don't lay a finger on it, but it is still a problem and still needs to be addressed by somebody. My concern is (and I shared this with the fire marshal) that we will have techs walking in and out of the client's property observing a system we know to be out of compliance, we've advised the client is out of compliance, and doing nothing. Would having the client sign your disclaimer notice be the right move here, or am I being overly concerned? 
          You’re called in by a [presumably] new customer who needs existing fire alarm system serviced.  For that work you need the Fire All in One, specifically the Service provision, but also the warranty [for whatever new you install] and the notice that system is not to code.  This is one of the times the Disclaimer Notice should be used for the fire alarm because even if you’re only doing a service call you are still “taking over” in a sense the fire alarm and you know it doesn’t meet today’s standards. 
          You’re called in for a “variety” of projects, so I assume that you are installing security systems or devices.  You need the Commercial All in One for that work and you should always use the Disclaimer Notice with the Commercial All in One.
          One of the features of an old out of today’s standards and code compliance is that it is grandfathered; it can remain as long as the building is not changed, renovated or expanded; the fire alarm must remain as installed.  That doesn’t mean you can’t replace a broken component as long as it’s just that, a replacement.  If not sure ask the AHJ.  Some replacement may change the system sufficiently to lose the grandfather exemption so be careful.
          I understand your concern that you believe the fire alarm poses a threat because it’s old and perhaps unreliable.  You make that clear to the subscriber; that’s all you can do.  If you want to keep driving an old vehicle that needs constant repairs why should your mechanic care?  Sure he might mention that the vehicle is a death trap and might even not want to have any part of it, but that is less a legal position than something else like ethics or morals or pity [though he isn’t going to work for free]. 
          You can lead a horse to water; you can’t make him drink. [This metaphoric term dates from the 12th century and was in John Heywood's proverb collection of 1546].

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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