11.21.18 – WGAL Lancaster –
Smoke alarms in your home can save lives, but the cost of an alarm system being offered for sale in the Susquehanna Valley has fire officials asking: Is it worth it?
WEBVTT now a news 8 on your side consumer alert. Smoke alarms in your home can save lives.
KIM: But the cost of an alarm system being offered for sale in the susquehanna valley has fire officials asking is it worth it?
Ron: 8 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Brian Roche went looking for answers.
Brian: Free dinner, an offer that’s hard to refuse. and while you’re there you’ll receive some home safety tips. >> about 20 people, they seemed excited that they were there.
Brian: Marlin Longenecker took advantage of the offer. then agreed to listen to a sales pitch in his home the next day for a smoke alarm system. My reaction was, I didn’t fall through the chair, I went through the chair.
Brian: The salesman recommended 3 smoke alarms and two carbon monoxide detectors for Marlin’s home at a cost of just under $2500. Duane Ober tells me that’s he been a firefighter for more than 30 years and has never seen alarms that are this expensive. >> it is an incredible amount of money being asked for what he is offering.
Brian: It is a lot of money, especially considering you can buy a smoke alarm for a fraction of a price. we went to the company to find out where the — what the company costs so much. they are being sold was called the Crossfire Alarm explained in, several advertising videos we found on you tube. >> The minimum products are just that. the minimum. Brian: that’s Chris Roberts, the President of Global Health and safety.
In a six page letter, he responded to my list of questions about the alarms and their cost, writing, Crossfire Alarms are comparable to, if not better than, commercial smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms marketed, installed, hard-wired, and monitored by traditional alarm companies. We simply do not compare to the cheap minimum DIY product on the shelf. he then goes on to detail a number of technical specifications that separate crossfire alarms from any store bought alarm. Including higher quality components, better battery life and in alarm that is much louder than store-bought alarms. global health and safety is based near Dallas, Texas.
A check with the Better Business Bureau shows the business has an a plus rating. Obviously, the price of their products can raise some eyebrows and consumers will have to individually decide if the cost of the product is worth it. Our viewers can read the entire response from the company president on our website. in the end, Marlin Longenecker had free smoke detectors installed by his local fire department. most local fire departments offer safety checks and smoke alarms at no cost or very minimal cost.
The response from Chris Roberts, president of Global Health & Safety, is posted below in its entirety:
Thank you for submitting your questions in writing. When you called me, you asked me if I’d ever been questioned about the quality and price of our products. In the fire safety industry, there are billions of dollars spent to provide government payroll, housing and apparatus for fire departments. Commercially, there are billions more spent for the protection of property and lives. Yet in the residential fire safety industry, the minimum standard only requires DIY store bought alarms. Even though the majority of fire deaths are from residential fires, I’ve dealt with misinformed fire officials who believe the minimum requirement is the best recommendation. I’ve also dealt with my fair share of inaccurate reports by the media over 30 years. I fully understand your intent and I also understand my answers will most probably not be portrayed accurately and most certainly not in their entirety. However, I will convey the truths about our products and our industry in my answers. This is why I requested your questions be submitted in writing so that there would be a record of what was asked as well as my complete answers.
First and foremost, our products are designed to save lives and property. In fact, we are credited with saving thousands of human lives and millions of dollars in property with our products. Just this morning I received a call from an elated customer who had a fire last night in Arizona and our product saved their lives. The fire started in the carport and burned into the attic and they were alerted and escaped their home. Four people are ecstatic about our product’s quality today. According to the lady who called, she was impressed that the network continued to sound for forty minutes. We are proud of our lifesaving mission and we know it is the ultimate goal of every member of the fire service and the fire safety industry.
Every time a residential fire results in a death, an investigation by fire officials is undertaken. Our company has never been informed that a fire death resulted from the failure of a Global product to function as intended. Not even once. If you do an Internet search involving inexpensively-manufactured smoke detectors that can be purchased at block stores, you will find lots and lots of lawsuits and claims that product failures caused deaths. In fact you will see there are probability of failure rates depending on the type of fire with the store bought alarms that reach as high as 50%.
Global’s stellar record is directly linked to the quality and features of its products. Our products are certainly not manufactured to be low cost, but they are also life- saving. And what is the price of a human life?
Your email states, “The fire officials who spoke with us feel that the products are – in the words of one of them – “exorbitantly overpriced.” They inform us that highly effective smoke and CO alarms can be purchased for a fraction of the price in local hardware stores. I would like to get your reaction to their opinions.” It also asks, ”According to a statement on the website for Crossfire Alarms, the products are notbuilt to minimum standards. Can you detail how minimum standards are exceeded by Crossfire alarms?”
I would appreciate the opportunity to educate the fire officials who spoke to you. In fact, I would estimate they don’t know about our products and have made an ill- advised statement about the value. Unfortunately, with over 35,000 fire departments in the U.S. alone and our product being sold in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, it’s impossible to inform many of the fire service. We attempt to do so by attending their meetings and seminars. I’m friends with many firefighters, fire chiefs and even State Fire Marshals. Despite our regular attendance at the many fire safety shows around the country, we don’t see all of them there. With over 1,000,000 firefighters, there are many who are uneducated on the differences in fire protection. In fact, they don’t offer any education on home fire detection to the fire service at any level. It’s been our experience they know little to nothing about our industry. They most certainly don’t know the costs associated with running a business in our industry. The simple fact they made no effort to contact me or our company is proof they don’t know what they’re advising.
Although Global’s products are intended for residential installation and use, in actual fact they are commercial grade. Crossfire alarms are comparable to, if not better than, commercial smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms marketed, installed, hard-wired, and monitored by traditional alarm companies (such as, in the United States, Burns, Grinnell, ADT and Siemens) in buildings such as governmental offices, hotels, motels, schools, churches, homes, and private workplaces such as buildings housing news agencies, all at considerable cost. Why shouldn’t families have the same protection at home they have when they are at school or work?
Our products cost much more to build in our US factory than any alarm on the store shelf sells for at retail. Those alarms are all made in Mexico, China or Taiwan. Once again the fire department is misinformed and they are not experts in high quality manufacturing versus low cost manufacturing. Especially, when they have no idea of the volume sold in high quality life safety products like ours. We seek reliability, superiority and durability despite the volume.
Here are some examples that are by no means an exhaustive explanation but will make the point. There is no other product like our heat detector for kitchens, attics, garages or laundry rooms available in stores. No other wireless heat that interconnects to the bedroom and bed shaker from the attic or kitchen. No other product in stores offers the ability to program the fixed temperature settings at 117, 135 and 175 degrees depending on the location installed. No product in the store can detect a rate of rise of 20 degrees in 2 minutes and alert the entire network of the overheating or flash flaming fire. This product alone has the ability to be installed in the places where smoke alarms are prohibited. Yet these places, like the kitchen are the locations where most fires start. Detection in the room of origin gives longer escape times in nearly all fires. This product alone makes us better than the minimum standard.
There is no alarm comparable to our product on the store shelf because our alarms create an interconnected network via radio frequency and use a Texas Instruments microprocessor to determine whether smoke, heat or carbon monoxide are detected and then sound the T3 or T4 alarm from all units in the network. All products on store shelves have a maximum range of 50 ft and most connect via wifi. Our product is once again superior to the minimum using a 200 ft range frequency hopping radio module to interconnect. In other words, if there’s any interference, we change frequencies. This is allowed because of smart technology and is more reliable than the minimum. Once again, this is more expensive, but worth it.
The stores have many smoke and CO alarms that employ a 10 year battery but our product is superior by using an industrial lithium manganese battery which has an expected 20 year lifespan. So if the consumer forgets to replace the alarm at 10 years as the experts recommend, the battery will continue to work. Obviously, this battery is more expensive but worth it. In fact there are no wirelessly connected photoelectric smoke alarms employing rate of rise heat and fixed temperature heat sensors in stores with the 10 year listing from UL, ULC or ActiveFire. All of which are labels our products carry.
No smoke alarm on the store shelf has a removable and cleanable optical chamber. Our smoke alarm provides this feature. Where other manufacturers require their smoke alarms to be vacuumed, our bug screen can be removed and washed with ivory soap and water. The chamber can be blown free of dust with compressed air and the sensor is like new once again.
The CO alarm we manufacture is listed for 10 years and has a quartz crystal oscillator. Because of the quality of this more expensive timing device, (used by no other CO alarm) we are able to increase the time of detection by as much as 8 minutes sooner than the threshold set by the minimum standard. In plain terms, our CO alarm will give warning of the minimum standard of PPM up to 8 minutes faster than any other alarm. While it is better than the minimum, 8 minutes seems important in a life safety product to us, so we employed the extra quality and expense.
You asked, “What is a “bed shaker?” No product on the store shelf offers a hearing impaired 520 Hz square wave cone speaker alarm that provides an 89 dB alarm at the pillow like our BedShaker 520. This is proven by research done by The University of Victoria in conjunction with the NFPA to be the most effective waking sound for children, the elderly, hearing impaired and people who are using sleep aids or under the influence of alcohol. No smoke alarm on the store shelf provides this. No product on the store shelf offers a vibrating bed that literally provides a bed shaking T3 pulse during a fire or a T4 pulse during a CO leak for the purposes of rousing a sleeping homeowner. In addition, no other smoke alarm on the store shelves offers a bedside control button to silence an alarm. This is known as a hush feature in the industry.
Most homeowners have to beat the alarm off the ceiling with a broom. Our product offers a control where they can reach it. This also gives us the Event Positioning System where the homeowner can silence all the alarms except the initiating device to locate the fire. This gives clarity during the panic of the alarm and allows the homeowner to investigate or egress faster. In fact, I just returned from the National Fire Academy in Maryland, where I presented this exceptional piece of our network to members of FEMA, the US Fire Administration, Homeland Security and the State Fire Marshal’s office. Once again, attempting to educate members of the fire service of what smart technology can offer versus the minimum product on store shelves. Not surprising to me, the attendees all thought our product was worth the retail price once they were knowledgeable. But their opinion is irrelevant in a free enterprise system. Fire service members should not endorse any product or price.
There are numerous more examples of Crossfire quality versus what is manufactured with low cost as the objective and found on store shelves. Our electrical boards are fiberglass vs. paper. Our soldering is done by hand. No store bought smoke alarm provides this quality. Our products undergo a 60 hour burn in process to reduce infant mortality. No store bought smoke alarm provides this quality. They are only required to spot check units at intervals. We inspect each unit with the burn in to find any defects on the line. Our plastics are ABS and have a 94VO flame rating. In layman’s terms, it’s the highest rating given to an alarm product by UL for flame resistance. We utilize an amplifier similar to an electric guitar to increase the power to our piezo horn which increases the decibels above the sound made by store bought alarms. No store bought smoke alarm provides this feature as they only meet the minimum standard and our products seek to exceed the minimum manufacturing standards. I could go on and on but I know I’ve given you more than you could include in your report.
Finally, our dealers offer something that a store shelf product doesn’t. They spend time with the family and educate them on the do’s and don’ts of fire safety. How to use an extinguisher, how to put out a grease fire, how to have and practice an escape plan, how to designate a meeting spot and much more. The value of this awareness is often overlooked by those who do not understand our model. The fact that the customer had a fire blanket given to them and the home checklist you provided in your email proves this information was covered to some degree. By offering the Heat Sensor, the dual Smoke/Heat Sensor and the CO/Heat Sensor along with a Bed Shaker 520 Hz and finally the awareness information, the dealer in question offered all these features to the homeowner.
The truth is misguided advice by anyone can fail to protect lives and property. The US has the highest death rate in the industrialized world from home fires. It is now common knowledge in the fire safety industry that homes burn 8 times faster than 50 years ago, but the minimum standard alarm technology is the same as it was in the 1970’s. Our dealers go into homes every day with less than the minimum standard. Over half have dead or missing batteries, disconnected devices due to false alarms and ionization alarms and dirty photoelectric chambers are the main culprits. Our product seeks to do better. In fact, we are better.
Your email also states, As you can see from one of the attachments, a consumer was quoted a price of nearly $2500 for a five unit system and a “bed shaker.” That’s an average cost of more than $415 for each item.
Obviously, our product is sold as a network and includes more in the pricing than an average cost per unit. BDI is responsible for paying the marketing, commissions, installation, warranty, service, licenses, taxes and the cost of the product from their sales price. Once again, we simply do not compare to the cheap minimum DIY product on the shelf. I would submit the price quoted is less than the cost of a refrigerator that protects a couple hundred dollars of food. A fire protection network built with high quality as the number one feature lasting up to 20 years that saves lives and property would certainly be worth the investment. After 30 years, I am still perplexed as to why anyone who claims to be concerned about saving lives and property would ever recommend the cheapest minimum detection to a homeowner. It will never make sense to me. This is why I believe the fire officials you spoke to are misinformed and truly not educated on the quality of our product or what is available in the smart home world.
Your email goes on to ask, “Do these costs accurately reflect the pricing of GH&S products? How much are these items sold for to distributors?” and you ask, “Is there a set mark up rate for distributors to sell the products?” Our Dealers have a contractually confidential wholesale pricing with us and the price quoted for the product listed is consistent with our MSRP including installation, service and warranties. You then asked, “Are distributors free to set their own prices?” Our distributors operate under the free enterprise system and are free to set their prices by the cost of running their business. Our product can be obtained for as little as $50 per month and up. Some homeowners decide to pay up front and the cost is factored differently depending on the home and the homeowner’s decision to protect certain areas. Hence every home is different. We’ve been around for a few decades and we all show up to work every day. Obviously, our margins are set where we can continue to offer the service and quality we aspire to but the price is consistent with the value.
Finally, you quoted the United States Fire Administration as they recommend dual sensor smoke alarms which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors be placed on every floor of your home, in every bedroom and in the hallway outside of each sleeping area. You asked, “ Do Crossfire alarms have ionization and photoelectric sensors? Global intentionally does NOT produce ionization alarms, the deficiencies and drawbacks of which have been conclusively proven. You might take a look at an April 2006 “White Paper” published by the United States Public/Private Safety Council, entitled “Home Smoke Alarms and Other Fire Detection and Alarm Equipment,” which is readily obtainable on the Internet. The White Paper provides a sobering assessment of the inadequacies of ionization alarms and the deaths caused by fires at homes at which ionization alarms were installed. Global had no involvement in the writing of the White Paper. In fact, any research at all will obtain the knowledge that by 2020, the minimum standards that ionization alarms currently pass will be changed and there is a widely recognized limit to the ionization technology’s ability to pass the new standard. In fact, the 2020 smoke alarm standards will prove the fire officials you have spoken to, to be misinformed by stating stores have “highly effective” smoke alarms. If that was the case the minimum standard would not be changing as we speak. You can find that information in the NFPA Journal April 2018 issue and numerous other places. So, instead of ionization, we provide a more reliable dual sensor alarm utilizing optical smoke detection with a rate of rise & fixed temperature heat sensor. This allows us to reliably detect slow smoldering fires photo-electrically and fast flaming fires by temperature without the nuisance alarms that plagues the ionization technology.
Once again, I believe the fire officials who according to you are the impetus of this inquiry are misinformed and uneducated on what they are comparing. It is unethical to endorse any product or to deter homeowners from protecting their lives and property with more than the minimum requirements and they should be educated about what they are advising.
Nothing in this letter may be taken as a waiver of any of Global Health & Safety, LLC’s rights, all of which are expressly preserved.
Global Health & Safety
Chris Roberts, President”