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Is It Safe To Cancel Your Fire Alarm Monitoring?

Imagine this: you’re at work, buried deep in emails, when your fire alarm monitoring system goes off, as a flicker of orange catches your eye. Smoke! Panic sets in, but thankfully, the fire alarm blares to life. Everyone evacuates safely, and the fire department arrives within minutes, heroically putting out the flames before they cause major damage.

Now imagine a different scenario. You cut costs by canceling your fire alarm monitoring service. The fire starts the same way, but with no alert to emergency services, precious minutes tick by. By the time someone notices the smoke, it’s too late. The fire rages, engulfing your building and everything in it. The good news? No more monthly monitoring bill. The bad news? Well, let’s just say rebuilding a business from the ashes isn’t exactly on most people’s bucket list.

For any commercial building owner, fire safety shouldn’t be an afterthought – it’s the cornerstone of everything you do.  A fire can mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a complete catastrophe.  Here’s why fire alarm monitoring is the silent guardian protecting your business, even when you’re not around.

Beyond the Buzzer: The Power of Monitoring

Fire alarms are great at raising the initial alarm, but what happens next?  Fire alarm monitoring services are the John McClane of fire safety – a one-man (or rather, one-station) army that springs into action when the fire alarm cries out.  These 24/7 operations receive the signal from your fire alarm and immediately dispatch help. This could involve:

  • Calling the fire department: Every second counts in a fire. Trained professionals ensure firefighters are on the scene ASAP.
  • Alerting building occupants: Not everyone might hear the alarm, especially if the fire starts after hours. Monitoring services use pre-programmed protocols to notify everyone in the building, giving them precious time to evacuate.
  • Contacting designated personnel: There might be someone on your team who can take crucial steps to mitigate the damage, like shutting off utilities or securing sensitive data.

The Money Matters: Monitoring and Insurance

Here’s where things get even more interesting.  Many insurance companies see buildings with monitored fire alarms as a lower fire risk. This translates to two potential benefits for you:

  • Lower premiums: Who doesn’t love saving money? A monitored fire alarm system could lead to significant discounts on your insurance bill.
  • Eligibility for coverage: Some insurance companies might require fire alarm monitoring as a condition for obtaining or maintaining coverage. Skipping on monitoring could leave you without a safety net when you need it most.

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Thinking about skipping monitoring? Here are a couple of cautionary tales to consider:

  • Case Study 1: Kinsale Insurance Co. v. Seabrook Marine  –

    Seabrook Loses Fire Insurance Coverage Due to Lack of Fire Alarm Monitoring.

    A Louisiana business owner, Seabrook Marine, faced a tough lesson in fire safety and insurance policy adherence. Here’s a breakdown:

    The Policy:

    • Kinsale Insurance issued an insurance policy to Seabrook Marine.
    • The policy included a “Protective Safeguards Endorsement” requiring a specific fire alarm system. This endorsement stated that as a condition of receiving insurance, Seabrook had to maintain an “Automatic Fire Alarm, protecting the entire building.” This alarm system had to be either:
      • Connected to a central monitoring station
      • Reporting to a public or private fire alarm station

    The Problem:

    • Seabrook had a security and theft monitoring system, but it did not have a fire monitoring system. This violated the clear requirement of the policy endorsement.

    Seabrook’s Arguments:

    • Seabrook argued they believed they had a fire alarm monitoring system with smoke detectors.
    • They claimed the policy wording was unclear when compared to Louisiana state law.
    • They contended Kinsale’s interpretation of the policy led to unreasonable results.
    • They argued under Louisiana law, the standard for compliance was “due diligence with no intent to deceive,” and they believed they met this standard.

    Seabrook also tried to argue that even without the monitored system:

    • The fire department wouldn’t have been alerted any faster (they claimed the fire originated outside and spread quickly).
    • Kinsale waived their right to enforce the endorsement due to lack of increased risk.

    The Court’s Decision:

    • The court disagreed with Seabrook on all counts.
    • The judge ruled that having a centrally monitored fire alarm was a mandatory condition for coverage under the policy.
    • Louisiana law did not support Seabrook’s arguments about policy wording or the “due diligence” standard.
    • Since Seabrook undeniably failed to meet the condition, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Kinsale. This means Kinsale did not have to provide insurance coverage for the fire.

    Additional Notes:

    • Seabrook appealed the decision.
    • The court also denied Seabrook’s request for more time to investigate (discovery) and their attempt to bring in another party (Central Monitoring) to the case.

    Key Takeaway:

    This case highlights the importance of carefully reading and understanding insurance policy requirements. Failing to comply with a condition precedent, like having the specific fire alarm system, can result in denied coverage, even in situations where the missing element might not seem directly related to the cause of the fire.

 

  • Case Study 2: Frankenmuth Mutual Insurance Co. v. Fun F/X II Inc. and Cao Enterprises II LLC

    Fire! Insurance Company Says “No Pay” Due to Disabled Sprinkler System

    A recent court case highlights the importance of clear communication between property owners and their insurance companies. Here’s the story:

    The Players:

    • Fun F/X II Inc.: A costume and theatrical supply retailer storing inventory in a warehouse.
    • Cao Enterprise II LLC: The owner of the warehouse.
    • Frankenmuth Mutual Insurance Co.: The insurance provider for both Fun F/X and Cao.

    The Problem:

    • In September 2017, a fire inspector discovered the warehouse’s sprinkler system lacked water pressure.
    • The warehouse owner contacted the fire inspector and water department, but the issue wasn’t resolved.
    • Unbeknownst to everyone, the city had accidentally cut the water supply pipe to the sprinkler system in April 2017 during demolition work next door.

    The Fire:

    • Sadly, a fire destroyed the warehouse and its contents in July 2019, causing over $7 million in losses for Fun F/X.

    The Insurance Claim:

    • Fun F/X filed a claim with Frankenmuth for the fire damage.

    The Insurance Company’s Argument:

    • Frankenmuth denied the claim because their policy excluded coverage for situations where the insured knew about a problem with a protective safeguard (the sprinkler system) but failed to notify them.

    The Court’s Decision:

    • Both the district court and the appeals court sided with Frankenmuth.
    • The courts agreed that the policy wording was clear and that Fun F/X (and by extension, the warehouse owner) should have informed the insurer about the disabled sprinkler system.

    The Takeaway:

    This case emphasizes the importance of:

    • Regularly checking and maintaining fire safety systems.
    • Promptly notifying your insurance company of any issues with protective safeguards in your property.
    • Carefully understanding the terms of your insurance policy to avoid coverage gaps.
  • Recently, an angry customer took to our Google page and left a scathing review that maligned our corporate character. On the surface, and based on their account, they seemed to be in the right. However, their claims were far from the truth. In reality, what happened was that they had failed their annual fire alarm test, and this was despite being alerted weeks earlier. Naturally, we had to inform the authorities, and this was where they took offence. They may not now it, but we actually saved them from possible future disaster.

The Takeaway: Peace of Mind is Priceless

Fire safety is a multi-faceted approach.  Fire alarm systems with integrated monitoring offer a comprehensive solution.  It’s more than just ticking a regulatory box; it’s a wise investment that safeguards lives, property, and your business’s future.  Don’t gamble with your livelihood.  Keep your fire alarm monitoring in place, and rest assured that even when you’re not there, your business is protected by a team of silent heroes.

At Indiana Alarm, we’re #InThisTogether. If you have any questions concerning your fire alarm system or monitoring, call us today to see how we can help you avoid painful outcomes. 317-399-5748. Or fill out a form here to have someone on our team contact you.

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