Private Fire Alarm Companies Have No Right to Sue Fire Districts

August 9, 2016

In a case of first impression, a federal judge ruled that private alarm companies have no private right of action under the Illinois Fire District Act to sue fire districts or 9-1-1 dispatch centers for monitoring fire alarms.

In Alarm Detection Systems, Inc. v. Orland Fire Protection District, et al., Case No. 14 C 876 (N.D. Ill.), Alarm Detection Systems (“ADS”) alleged that it provided fire alarm services to commercial and multi-unit residential buildings within the jurisdiction of two 9-1-1 dispatch centers – Orland Park Fire Protection District Dispatch Center and DuPage Public Safety Communications (“DU-COMM”).  Both Orland and DU-COMM had contracts with Tyco Integrated Security, LLC (“Tyco”) whereby Tyco agreed to equip the dispatch centers with fire alarm monitoring equipment, and the centers agreed to monitor fire alarm signals sent from radio transmitters located in the commercial entities for a fee and then dispatch fire and emergency medical personnel.  ADS claimed that Orland, which operated its own dispatch center, and DU-COMM, which is an intergovernmental agency that operates a dispatch center, did not have the statutory authority to monitor fire alarms under the Illinois Fire District Act.

Although U.S. District Court Judge Durkin sidestepped the substantive issue of whether Orland and DU-COMM violated the District Act, he found that there was no private right of action to challenge Orland and DU-COMM’s authority to engage in fire alarm monitoring activities.  The Court explained that there was nothing explicit or implied in the District Act that provided a remedy for injury to commercial interests like ADS alleged in the suit.  DU-COMM was represented by HCB attorney Mike Bersani.

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