Algonquin looking for buyer for fire alarm monitoring system

ALGONQUIN – After taking over the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District’s fire alarm monitoring system, the village of Algonquin is now looking for a prospective buyer.

Algonquin earlier this month put out a request for proposals to purchase the radio frequency fire alarm equipment that it took over from the fire district in December.

Shortly after the transfer, the village was sued by Alarm Detection Systems in federal court asking that the program be ended.

“This is a last ditch effort by the defendants to preserve an illegal operation and monopoly, along with the ongoing exclusion of the private sector, including ADS, from freely competing for the business,” wrote Bruce Goldsmith, attorney for Alarm Detection Systems.

The lawsuit asks that the village “completely divest themselves from the business in a manner that will ensure that all private alarm contractors in the business will be able to freely and openly compete for commercial accounts.”

Earlier this summer, a federal appeals court in a case involving ADT Security Systems and the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District found that the fire district did not have the statutory authority to own the signaling equipment or to assess fees to maintain the system.  

Algonquin has an ordinance requiring all commercial properties in the village to directly connect to the wireless monitoring system. There are 441 alarms monitored by the system; 281 of those are in Algonquin.

The rest are businesses and multifamily properties that voluntarily joined the network in Barrington Hills, Cary, Huntley and Lake in the Hills.

According to a request for proposal posted on the village of Algonquin’s website, the village has chosen not to proceed in offering the service on its own.

As part of the transition, the current alarm subscribers will not be transferred to the successful proposal.

Each subscriber will have the opportunity to pick its own alarm-monitoring company.

“There is no plan for the village to have a system to which the mandatory requirement would apply in the future,” the proposal request said. “This [request for proposal] will divest the village of the equipment with which it could operate such a system, so all subscribers will need to make arrangements with private companies to provide the required service in the future.”

Kevin Lehan is the executive director of the Illinois Electronic Security Association, which has just under 100 members mostly in the Chicago area, including ADS.

He said the proposal request was a step in the right direction.

“We don’t believe the village or the fire protection district should own the system,” Lehan said. “We believe in the open market, the free marketplace.”

Lehan said the association would not want to see one company buy all the equipment and by default get all of the customers, creating a monopoly.

He added people should be able “to choose the technology they want and the service provider they want.”

Mike Kumbera, assistant to the village manager, said the village does not comment on pending litigation.

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