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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fire Protection District Can Require Direct Connection for Alarm Monitoring


This week, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a case involving a lawsuit brought by private alarm companies challenging a fire protection district’s “direct connection” requirement. ADT Security Services, Inc. v. Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District.  In 2009, the district had enacted an ordinance requiring all commercial and multiple family residential buildings to have fire alarms connected to the district’s central monitoring board through wireless technology.  The ordinance also provided that the district would only contract with one alarm company to provide and service signaling equipment. 

The private alarm companies sued the district, claiming that the ordinance would displace private alarm companies and invalidate existing contracts with customers.  The district court previously held that the district had engaged in illegal conduct by invalidating contracts between private alarm companies and their customers and requiring customers to contract only with the district.  The Seventh Circuit held, however, that the district did have statutory authority to require direct connections to the district’s monitoring board through wireless technology.  But, that authority was not so broad as to authorize the district to establish a monopoly over alarm transmitters and monitoring services.  Consequently, the district could not require all customers to buy alarm signaling services and equipment solely from the district or just one private alarm company. 

The Seventh Circuit’s finding that the district has the authority to require direct connections to the district's central alarm board for monitoring is consistent with the 2002 Illinois Appellate Court decision in Alarm Detection Systems, Inc. v. Village of Hinsdale that non-home rule municipalities can require owners to connect their fire alarm systems directly to the municipality’s fire board. 

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink

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