Several months ago I said to stay tuned for news, coming out of Florida,
about UL . UL has been lobbying the fire officials in Florida to convert **all** fire systems to UL central station service, (meaning all systems
must be certificated by UL or placarded by FM) which UL has successfully
accomplished in several jurisdictions. This alone, violated State adopted
code. UL's efforts, fees, and inspections for compensation, to become a UL
certified installation company, started to raise flags with the State and
when looked at closer, it was determined that UL was operating illegally in
the State of Florida. UL has suspended field inspections until their license
application has been approved, which is in process at the State level, as we
speak. When their license is issued, they will then have to meet all
regulatory requirements of Florida State Statute 489 Part II to do business
in the fire alarm industry within the state. It will be interesting to see
if other states open their eyes, to this, and not allow a private, non
regulated, unlicensed company the opportunity to require **additional**
certification, for a fee, of already certified companies and individuals. UL
had a good ride, flying under the radar, but it is now over.
In at least some locations they are not. One of my clients is a
condominium complex in Miami. They saved over $50,000 off the cost of
having an alarm company install commercial fire alarm systems in three
buildings by purchasing the hardware online and having an electrician
However, they still had to contract with a licensed fire alarm company
to do the inspections. If they had a licensed engineer available, he
could also have done the inspections. However, even with the
ridiculous hourly rates they're paying the alarm company to inspect the
system, the savings on monitoring fees by going direct with a UL
monitoring center still saves them nearly 50% on the recurring fees.
Robert L Bass
It doesn't have anything to do with CO. The license is required, because in
the Florida Statute, a private company, that is inspecting a fire alarm
system for compensation, must be licensed.
A Florida building owner isn't allowed to inspect
Sure they can but that doesn't satisfiy the requirements set by UL to have a
system certificated by them. Once a building fire alarm system is
certificated by UL,
they can come and inspect and test the building at any time of the day or
night and they bring the fire inspectors with them. They are testing the
system, the central stations handling of the alarm and the runner service
response time. Guess who is charged for this unscheduled surprise
inspection. They gain access from the fire knox box. It is part of
maintaining the certificate.
I use a UL listed central station but I am not a UL listed company and
never intend to be.
I have all the respect in the world for UL as a standards writing entity and
testing laboratory. They are the "Seal of Good Housekeeping" if you will. I
don't have any respect for their company certification requirements and the
fables they use to sell their usefullness to the AHJ's when it is nothing
more than a revenue generator for membership to belong their club.
Regardless of what they say, it is starts at $6,800 the first year and
$2,500 each year after, depending on the size of your company. I know of
companies paying well over $100,000 dollars per year. But hey, what better
way to gain membership than to get an AHJ to make it mandatory.
Unfortunately they may have violated State adopted code. We will know that
What does that have to do with this thread? No body gives a rat's ass where
equipment is purchased as long as it was UL listed. What has changed in
Miami, is that now, that electrician cannot install that fire alarm system
unless he is a UL listed installation company. He cannot even take it in for
permitting and plan review unless he is listed.
First you said the electrician, now you say a fire alarm company, which is
it? Secondly, who ever it is now needs to be a UL listed company. You better
catch up before you post Robert. As usual, you post without knowing what
you are taking about or you're posting ancient history.
Not entirely true
Bahhaahahahaha!!!! Wait until you see what they will be paying now that UL
is mandated. Not only will you have the alarm company cost but they will
have all of the UL fees and higher monitoring fees because they now have to
have runner service on all systems, as well. No choice, no alternative, no
exemption unless of course it is a government building. Just big
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$'s to everyone involved.
Boy are you out of it. You don't know about having to have a contract, for
not only monitoring, but service as well, in place before the CO? You cannot
do that by going direct to a cheapy monitoring center somewhere. Not only
that, but in these effected areas the AHJ's have a list of only those
companies and central stations that they except. This is a restraint of
trade and prevents a State licensed contractor from working within his/her
own trade. Now you see why I am not a fan of UL and what they are creating.
This movement has started in Florida but has been relayed to us out of UL
Illinois office that this is just the tip to the iceberg. They not only what
the fire industry but that they are most interested in the burg industry on
a national basis. $$$$$$$$ signs for membership in their eyes. That also has
started in Florida with an ordinance in Martin County to only install UL
systems in even residential. "GEE, where are we going to hang this big ugly
ass UL bell on your multi million dollar home, sir?" You need not post
unless you know what you are talking about Robert. You've been in Brazil to
long, the world is passing you by!
Great info Bob. We can only hope that it'll catch on elsewhere.
About 4-5 months ago I recalled reading of large layoffs at UL hera on
LI around 3,000 persons- coupled with a report of a Germany Based outfit
who was trying to get into the US market to Compete head-to-head with UL.
BTW- you left out another important UL issue- Their beholding and
collusion with the INSURANCE INDUSTRY!!!!!
Bob Worthy wrote:
I for one am glad to see Florida is finally waking up. UL has it's place,
but they seem to forget they are not all knowing...and they are not exempt
from anything, especially licensing.
I got out of the fire alarm business 11 years ago. Boy did I see all this
crap coming... :)
Check your licensing laws. They are a private company that, up until now,
has not been regulated and UL has been taking advantage of it for ever. Even
the insurance industry is regulated, why aren't they? Every State that has a
licensing law should check to see if UL's actions fall under the licensing
law, as it does in Florida. Again, I am not against UL standards and testing
laboratory functions (product approval) but they need to be accountable to
someone, especially when their actions are causing a restraint of trade.
They need to be regulated so that they can't get away with doing only 3-10 %
of the required inspections (documented and admitted to by UL
representatives at an ECLB board meeting) and think this is all right for
life safety. This is next to criminal. The AHJ's assume that UL is taking
care of the required inspections. They are not! That means a system could
vertually go uninspected for 10 years and systems that are to far away from
a central station may never get inspected. They have been caught taking the
money and not doing what the AHJ's expected them to do. They have been
charging prices and raising rates, with no notice, at a percentage rate that
is unreasonable even though they haven't been supporting what they are
selling to the AHJ's, again because the haven't had to answer to anyone. Now
they do. When they screw up, now they will have to answer to someone and
their records of contractor violations cannot be held private to protect
their members. State law says that contractor violations must be reported to
the State, so that it is public record. That was one of the major concerns
of the AG's office. Bad contractor's violation records were being kept
private by UL. A state license search, by a consumer, would never show
these violations, possibly leaving the public in harms way. All states need
to investigate this and get UL regulated if they are going to operate in
I heard about layoffs and closing of locations. I didn't hear about the
I wonder if the insurance companies really know that only 3-10% of the
required systems are actually being inspected. They are not dumb enough to
accept a piece of paper (certificate) recieved by faxing in an application
and paying a fee in lieu of an actual onsite inspection to verify the
coverage. I seriously doubt they know that UL's inspection history is only
3-10% and now, while laying off and closing locations, they are taking on
more responsibility. Amazing!!
Well, when you have a state alarm association that is representing over 750
member companies in the State of Florida, people start to listen. I know
your old feelings about the organization and not trying to push it on you.
Florida is now the largest State alarm association in the country and
growing. When this issue stopped licensed people from working in their
trade, it needed to be addressed. One voice representing the majority was
the best approach. One of the first steps was to make sure UL was operating
legally and was regulated the same as the rest of us in the fire industry. I
am glad that you, being one of the old timers, agree that there was
something that smelled like three day old company.
Testing and inspecting needs licensing and the real catch was that, it was
for compensation under a contract. This puts UL into the contracting
business no matter how one might twist and turn it. Something Robert could
never get through his head. UL tried to say what they were doing was having
the fire inspector test/inspect the system. Records showed the fire
department was usually not always present. Even if the fire department was
the ones doing the testing/inspecting, the law says "by or through others".
When they didn't win that argument, they tried to tell the state that what
they were doing was an audit. To late, the state said they can call it what
ever they want to call it, they are charging money under a contract to do
it, so if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and they are
collecting money to do it, they need a license.
Here's the Webster's definition of "audit"
Main Entry: 1au·dit
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin auditus act of hearing, from audire
1 a : a formal examination of an organization's or individual's accounts or
financial situation b : the final report of an audit
2 : a methodical examination and review
I don't see "test fire alarm system" anywhere in there, do you?
Here's Webster's definition of "test"
Main Entry: 2test
1 : to put to test or proof : TRY
2 : to require a doctrinal oath of
1 a : to undergo a test b : to be assigned a standing or evaluation on the
basis of tests
2 : to apply a test as a means of analysis or diagnosis -- used with for
- test·abil·i·ty /"tes-t&-'bi-l&-tE/ noun
- test·able /'tes-t&-b&l/ adjective
- test the waters also test the water : to make a preliminary test or survey
(as of reaction or interest) before embarking on a course of action
See where it says "to be assigned a standing or evaluation on the basis of
Sounds to me, UL is evaluating the UL standard by testing, not auditing.
Yup...It's a duck.......
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UL has indeed been pushing fire alarm certification, and they're in bed
with the NFPA on this. The NFPA writes standards that talk about third
party certification, and guess who's in line to offer that service?
The UL burglar alarm certificate program has been going downhill for years,
since the insurance industry no longer cares about certificates except for
really high risks. The number of burglar alarm certificates is only a tiny
fraction of what it once was. Another reason why UL is pushing fire
UL used to proudly state that it was a "not for profit" organization,
dedicated to protecting the public. Now, it's a for-profit business,
trying to sell its services just like everybody else.
You're under a grave misunderstanding about what UL does and how the
inspection program works. There's nothing even remotely criminal about it.
And if the AHJs assume that UL is "taking care of the required
inspections," then the AHJs are complete morons. (Which, of course, they
often are.) UL's services are spelled out right on the front of every UL
certificate, so it's hardly a secret.
UL inspects and lists companies, not systems. It's the responsibility of a
listed company to provide the services to UL standards. It's not the
responsibility of UL to inspect every certificated system. Think of this
in a manufacturing context: UL doesn't inspect every toaster that comes
off the assembly line. UL looks at a sample toaster every now and then.
It's the toaster manufacturer's responsibility to keep making products that
meet UL standards.
UL does an initial inspection of an alarm company's work to see whether
it's capable of meeting UL standards. If so, the company is listed, and
can request a certificate for a particular system. UL issues the
certificate based on information provided by that company. Once a year, UL
does a field inspection of a few randomly selected systems to see if they
APPEAR to be installed in accordance with UL standards. UL does not do a
functional test of every part of the system, and never has.
UL's people are not fire alarm testers, though many of them are more than
qualified to do so. Their job is to audit the records and to look for
obvious problems with installations. If one smoke detector has gotten
disconnected, UL isn't going to find it. That's not their job!
If you think UL should be doing full inspections of every certificated
system, think how many UL inspectors there would have to be, and think of
the cost to the alarm company and its subscribers. Think how many ADT
systems alone would need inspections.
It's the installing company's responsibility to put in compliant systems.
The certificate is the alarm company's representation that the system and
the service it provides meets UL standards. The alarm company's
representation, not UL's.
Of course they know. UL's certificate program has existed for 75 years,
dating back to the days when UL was essentially an arm of the insurance
industry. It isn't rocket science to figure this stuff out: when you have
tens of thousands of certificates and only a handful of UL inspectors, it
doesn't take much brain power to figure out they can't be inspecting every
And yes, the insurance industry IS "dumb enough" to accept that piece of
paper. If they really wanted each system inspected, there would be no need
for a certificate program: they'd just require an actual inspection report
on each system.
UL probably claims that they are not inspecting fire alarm systems, but
merely observing the people who do. That, and auditing central station
records and records of fire tests. If those activities fit the definition
of a fire alarm company under Florida law, so be it, but it does sound like
the kind of thing the lawyers will argue about.
I do like the idea of making the UL company inspection results public. UL
has never done this in the past because the alarm company is paying for
that inspection, and could reasonably expect UL to keep the results
confidential so as not to give that company's competitors ammunition. But
if the law mandates disclosure, then every alarm company will be in the
same boat, and the public interest will be served.
For a four hour inspection by one fire alarm tech (not an engineer)
they are being charged over $800. That is still better than what ADT
wanted -- $1,500 per month for quarterly inspections to three
buildings. That's $4,500 per visit. Each visit lasts roughly 4 hours
according to the client.
Robert L Bass
A previous poster asked:
as long as it was UL listed...
The point is the customer doesn't need to be UL listed to install *his
own* fire alarm system. Since you're not UL listed (which is the
obvious reason you've got such a burr in your butt over this), that
puts my DIY clients ahead of you. They can install their own system in
Miami yet you no longer can. If that annoys you, perhaps you should
bring your company up to spec and get UL listed. If you are unwilling
or (more likely) incapable of doing so, that is no one's problem but
fire alarm system unless he is a UL listed installation company. He cannot even
take it in for
permitting and plan review unless he is listed.
Yet the building owner can do so and save a bundle of money in the
process. Isn't that nice?
Robert L Bass
No need to cry, Worthless.
will you have the alarm company cost but they will have all of the UL fees and
higher monitoring fees...
UL monitoring costs the same as non-UL monitoring. Most large CS'
already carry a UL fire listing. They charge the same rates as the few
non-UL houses do.
The new rule allows a UL listed firm (or the building owner) to do the
installation. It requires a UL listed monitoring center. I'll check
with one of my clients (a captain in the Miami FD) to see if they also
require runner service.
building. Just big $$$$$$$$$$$$$$'s to everyone involved...
Everyone except you, right. Hmm. Between being shut out of all those
lucrative commercial fire alarm jobs and the soon coming catastrophe
that VoIP will do to small, under-powered CS like yours, it looks like
your future isn't going to be as rosy as you might have hoped.
Robert L Bass