Court rejects lawsuit to force Orland Fire District to change Fire Alarm response system
Appeals Court affirms the right of the Orland Fire Protection District to use one emergency response agency to direct emergency response calls. Fire District officials say ruling saves district funds but more importantly reduces the dispatch time, arguing “every second counts”
The United State Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling recognizing the authority of the Orland Fire Protection District to require all commercial buildings to send fire-alarm signals directly to the Fire District’s dispatch center using one contractor.
The Village of Orland Park, Village of Orland Hills, and the Fire District’s commercial fire alarms are managed through only one alarm system provider, Tyco Integrated Security, LLC. Alarm Detection Systems, Inc (ADS), a Tyco competitor, sought to void the district’s system and require that the district use more than one alarm company.
But Attorney Jim Roche who represented the Fire District in the original lawsuit and also the appeal, said that changing the system the Fire District now uses not only would be more costly but more importantly would likely increase the time it takes to get the first responders to the scene of the emergency.
“Right now, the emergency calls goes directly from the person in need to the fire district because we only have to work through one alarm system,” Roche explained.
“When there is a single provider on an alarm, there is less margin for error, and this is important especially when seconds count, as they do in heart attacks, fires and other emergency situations that the firefighters and paramedics respond to.”
Roche said that had ADS won the lawsuit, the district would have been required to use an intermediary dispatch system resulting in an emergency call going through a third party and then go to the district.
“In the eyes of the District, there can be a critical delay in answering the alarm if a third party is involved. They have to send a signal to a remote site, which then would send it to the fire district. Those lost seconds could costs lives,” Roche said.
Roche said that the Appellate court decision is a precedent that will impact other similar lawsuits around the country.
The ADS lawsuit was filed against the Orland Fire Protection District, Tyco and another dispatch center, DuPage Safety Communications (“Du-Comm”). ADS sought to use the Sherman Act, Clayton Act, and 14th Amendment to argue that Tyco had a monopoly on the service.
Orland Fire Protection District Fire Chief Michael Schofield called the courts ruling a “landmark decision” with significance not only in terms of holding down costs but in saving lives.
“The court basically is saying that local concerns about public safety come first before corporate profits,” Schofield said.
“This ruling allows municipalities and Fire Districts to make decisions based on their constituents’ safety not on the profits for the companies that provide emergency support services. It’s about protecting the public not the corporations. We feel this is a huge win. Corporations wanted to dictate what the Fire District should do and that is wrong. We do what’s best for the people.”
Roche said the Appellate Court ruling was written by Justice Amy St. Eve of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“If I were a resident of Orland Park or Orland Hills I will sleep better tonight knowing that the U.S. Court of Appeals has put our safety ahead of corporate profits.”