The Duties of an Alarm Contractor
Alarm contractors traditionally hold themselves out to the public as experts in every aspect of the alarm industry, especially in relation to the project that they are contracted to provide. Their expertise typically includes, but isn’t limited to, the security survey, overall system design, needs analysis, recommendations, application, installation, equipment placement, system programming, service, inspection, testing, maintenance, as well as central and / or remote station monitoring of the security and / or life safety systems. Much like other trades, alarm contractors have a duty to comply with nationally recognized industry standards and practices, as well as the equipment manufacturer’s specifications, NFPA Standards, and UL Standards when installing or servicing these systems. Unfortunately, the traditional duties of an alarm contractor can be compromised based on a number of factors. Highlighted below is an excerpt from The Alarm Science Manual, which depicts these circumstances:
In certain instances the traditional duties of the alarm contractor can be materially affected by the subscriber, by unique circumstances of the installation, or by other aspects of the work. The scope of work contracted for by the subscriber, or work that was not contracted for by the subscriber, can also materially change the dynamics of the contractor’s duties in such a way that instead of the contractor being deemed negligent, or even grossly negligent and/ or acting in a willful and wanton manner in the case of a loss, the contractor may be deemed to have acted appropriately. Conversely, with a differing fact pattern, the opposite conclusions could be drawn. Consequently, the contractor could be held civilly responsible for its actions and inactions, which can include, but are not limited to, negligence, gross negligence, deception and fraud, willful and wanton behavior, and that the action(s) by the alarm company were outside the scope of the alarm contract. Therefore, it was an act done without the benefit of the contract’s protective provisions.
There are many factors that may inevitably come into play during the alarm contractor’s traditional duties. Both controllable and uncontrollable instances can either create or minimize liability for the alarm company or central station. Such liabilities are highlighted below:
For instance, if it is determined that an alarm contractor breached its duty to the subscriber, and that its actions and/or inactions were a substantial proximate cause to the damages sustained, this could create liability. Essentially, the alarm contractor or central station may be held financially liable for its conduct in court, or it may be determined that the contractor had no duty under the circumstances. Therefore, it is prudent for all alarm contractors and central stations to be proactive and help guard against these types of risks before a loss occurs.
These types of scenarios are what makes compliance to the equipment manufacturer’s standards and industry standards of vital importance for alarm contractors. I’ll cover some of these standards in my next blog post!
Excerpts taken from The Alarm Science Manual!