Alarm Detection loses lawsuit against Hinsdale

The alarm company lost its appeal, ending a more than two-year legal battle
Friday, March 1, 2002

HINSDALE, Ill.-Alarm Detection Systems' battle to overturn a village ordinance that required commercial fire systems to be monitored by the fire department ended in December when it lost its appeal with the Appellate Court of Illinois.

In its de-cision, the court reaffirmed its earlier judgement, which said that the village has the right to require commercial properties to directly link their fire system to the fire department.

"The village is extremely pleased that the Appellate Court agreed with all issues of the village's position," said Peter Friedman, Hinsdale's attorney. "Now, there's no question anymore. It eliminates any question of the validity of the direct connect requirement."

The alarm company had been legally fighting the city's decision to require fire systems be monitored by the village since November of 1999, when it filed a lawsuit against Hinsdale. In its lawsuit, Alarm Detection said the ordinance does not follow NFPA or BOCA codes and that it prevents free trade, along with other issues.

"Any time the government can tell you that you cannot conduct business . . . it's a detrimental thing," said Ed Bonifas, vice president of Alarm Detection Systems.

In its ruling, the Appellate Court said the village has the right to "regulate the construction of new buildings and the maintenance of existing buildings in order to protect the lives, health and property of the public."

The village adopted the ordinance about seven years ago after Fire Chief Patrick Kenny said that direct connection to the fire board would reduce the response time to fire alarms.

The court also noted, in its written decision, that "even ADS acknowledges that private central station monitoring adds anywhere from 15 to 40 seconds to fire alarm response times. Such a delay can provide sufficient time for a small fire to grow into a larger and more dangerous fire."

Bonifas said Alarm Detection Systems will not pursue the case further. The next step would have been to the state Supreme Court.

"We're basically taking a 'if you can't beat them join them' attitude," said Bonifas.

He said the alarm company will now look to become the alarm equipment service provider for police and fire departments that intend to monitor alarms.