When taking over an existing account, there can be complications. How old is the system you are connecting to? Are parts still available if the customer needs service in the future? Has the system been maintained and tested on a regular basis? What, if any, changes have been made to the premises since the alarm system was originally installed? Has the customer experienced any problems with the system such as false alarms or other indicators that would require you to address these concerns? Is the system adequate in the context of its environment? Are there areas in the premises that the system does not protect?
Clearly, if a customer contacts your company and asks you to take over the monitoring of its existing account, which was installed by another alarm provider in the community, these questions and others should be strongly considered.
While this task might seem quite simple, and the reprogramming is successfully performed, what if your company performs no testing on any part of the existing system and assumes that everything on the burglar and/or fire alarm system is functioning properly? What if subsequent to the changeover to your monitoring station, a fire occurs at the premises and the fire alarm system does not activate, and/or does not notify the central station for fire department dispatch and intervention? An inspection of the system could reveal that the fire detection protective loop circuit was not properly configured in accordance with the equipment manufacturer’s specifications, NFPA Standards, UL Standards, and nationally recognized industry standards and practices. By way of example, maybe there was no power supervision relay on the four-wire fire loop, and all supervisory end-of-line resistors (EOLR) were found to be installed within the control panel set, not at the end of the line as is required. In addition, the fire loop was found to be t-tapped, meaning the loop could not be supervised by the conventional control panel set, which was installed at the protected premises. This would indicate that the system could never have been properly tested when it was originally installed, or when you started monitor- ing it. What if an investigation of a residential system you took over found that there were not enough smoke detectors provided in the premises based on the overall size of the home? Importantly, many of the smoke and heat detectors were also found to be nonfunctional. In other words, they were not connected to the respective loops at all and other circumstances found to also be disconnected in the control panel.
With this in mind, a lawsuit could be filed against the original alarm company and the new company—yours—even though the customer only contracted with you for their monitoring.
Excerpt taken from Jeffrey Zwirn’s book, The Alarm Science Manual!