Alarm Veteran "Demands A Criminal Investigation" Of UL

By John Honovich and Brian Rhodes, Published Oct 18, 2019, 10:22am EDT (Info+)

The Interceptor's Project pressure against UL continues to rise. Following Keith Jentoft's allegation that "UL Has Blood On Their Hands", Jentoft has provided a letter from 36-year alarm veteran Peter Goldring sent to UL.

Goldring declares that it was "reprehensible that UL would try to sweep this matter under the rug" and that he will "demand a criminal investigation".

Inside this note, we go over the demand, the full letter, analyzing its claims and positioning.

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Poll / ****

Comments (16)

Goldring Responds

We forwarded this report to Goldring, and he responded on several points:

A good summary of events and unbiased.
You should clarify your interpretation of the criminality that a criminal complaint wouldn’t result in an arrest of any individuals at UL. No one will be doing a perp walk, rather a criminal complaint would be brought against UL. Although not an everyday thing, it is quite common. Businesses and organizations can be summoned to criminal court.
Examples include unpaid tickets on a business-owned vehicle, and building and/or fire code violations. No one goes to jail, but criminal courts impose hefty fines. Here’s a good explanation: Can a Corporation Be Charged With a Crime
The basis of my complaint is that my business (and thousands of your readers’ businesses) were damaged financially by UL’s claim that they tested the products in question and evaluated them against applicable codes and standards. When presented with a report, they chose to investigate using the same team trusted to review the equipment in the first place. Now, based on their recent press releases, they are trying to sweep this under the rug. I emphasize again - the manufacturer is the innocent bystander here. They sent their products (and a large check) to UL to confirm their engineers and manufacturing process met all applicable codes and standards.
Have a look at UL’s Standards of Business Ethics.
I think you’ll agree its no stretch that UL is violating their own published policies — especially in the way Mr. Zwirn’s report is being handled.
Last thought. I’d recommend you reach out to Kevin Faltin, VP of the Fire and Life Safety Business unit of UL and give him the opportunity to comment directly. I’m sure he won’t, but it would probably add some credibility if you indicated he was afforded an opportunity to react.
It’s relevant in the 'about Goldring' to include that I am NICET IV, Fire Alarms and in my career, I have designed, installed and overseen thousands of UL Certificated installations and have been admitted as an expert witness in dozens of cases involving electronic security systems.
Best,
Peter

Of note, we have reached out to UL and will post their response when received.

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This is starting to seem like a shakedown campaign by Zwirn and Jentoft.

Have they provided any statistics or data on the number of panels that have found to be compromised by such an attack?

I think part of this is that in general a UL mark does not have a unified perception by the public. Personally when I see a UL-listed product I generally only take that to mean the device is not likely to cause an electrical fire or similar malfunction. I have never interpreted a UL mark or listing as meaning "this device cannot be be compromised or bypassed in any manner".

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Thanks for taking time for good comments. It would be impossible to pinpoint how many times a failure like this has caused injury, physical and/or financial. No one really keeps records like that and it’s impossible to search all of the personal injury cases worldwide.

You use the words “attack” and “compromised”. What about water causing a short or ground? A critter or varmint causing a short? Someone else commented “within the protected premises”. I’ve seen more than six cases where an intruder broke a sheet rock wall in a garage to access a keypad wire and shorted it, defeating the system.

UL’s mark is very specific. It means a manufacturer parted with a lot of money and time to submit several samples for their testing. Not just that the product won’t burn your house down (which is nice) but also that it (and its installation procedures) meet all applicable codes and standards. A manufacturer uses this test to confirm that their design, engineering and manufacturing processes are all up to snuff.

A lot of companies and experts, like me rely on UL’s mark. We pay a premium for UL Listed products and we charge our end users more money for the installation. Insurance underwriters depend on the listing to properly assess their risk.

UL either didn’t test the Vista 20P in Zwirn’s report, or they didn’t test properly. Either way a product that isn’t safe made it past the goalie.

If you have any additional questions, or want to have a 30 minute conversation on the house go to my website pmgoldring.com and reach out.

Again, thanks for your comments and keep asking questions!

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What about water causing a short or ground? A critter or varmint causing a short?

What about a poor quality capacitor failing? What about a PCB design that allows noise interference when placed next to a wi-fi access point? To what extent of potential failure modes should UL test and verify? Should a UL certification cover all practical failure modes?

I’ve seen more than six cases where an intruder broke a sheet rock wall in a garage to access a keypad wire and shorted it, defeating the system.

Six cases? Were these all on systems you personally installed, or just six cases in general? Overall that seems like a very low number compared to the total number of alarms installed. Again, should a UL certification cover the last of all possible edge cases, or just the most practical expected situations?

A manufacturer uses this test to confirm that their design, engineering and manufacturing processes are all up to snuff.

No, they don't (I've been through product design cycles on several products that have been submitted for UL testing. UL certification means you meet the minimum specifications for a product in that category. In many cases it is possible, and recommended, to go beyond UL's minimum specifications. Similarly, a UL cert is in no way a guarantee that "design, engineering and manufacturing processes are all up to snuff".

and we charge our end users more money for the installation

Are you saying you charge more to install a product if it has a UL certification? Are you also saying that at times you install a non-UL certified product? Can you list some examples of where you would opt for a non-UL product when a comparable UL-listed product exists?

UL either didn’t test the Vista 20P in Zwirn’s report, or they didn’t test properly.

I will admit that while I have been involved in various UL product certifications, none have been specifically for alarm panels. Do you have a link/reference to the part of the UL test procedure/certification process that is meant to specifically address the issue Zwirn is calling attention to?

If you have any additional questions, or want to have a 30 minute conversation on the house go to my website pmgoldring.com and reach out.

Thanks, but I'd much prefer to keep the debate and discussion here, so that all IPVM members can get the benefit of it. I would imagine you see the benefit of that as well?

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UD 1 has some very dead on comments.

I asked Mr Zwirn in a previous thread to this subject “what about all the other failure modes that could happen to alarms systems, his response was “one thing at a time” I guess the question is why are we waiting to address all the other potential ways a alarm system could fail? Is there no circuit that could or would fix the other potential problems.

Humm what circuit could fix installer error?

I think UL’ s response was objective and to the point , they just don’t like the answer.

I think we are back to what is reasonable and what standards were in effect at the time. I will say again making this public is not beneficial to our industry as laymen would not understand.

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The squeaky wheel presents a case, however the case is easily mimicked IYI(definition) conspiracy times actual facts. Issues are resolved, by evolving change requests due to the nature within its lack of or substituted design/failure/inception.

So, while listening to some ZZ Top logic with about 12 bottles of beer stacked up....I will say at this noisy conjecture that UL can remedy a plausible response/remediation without all the low end industry mark ups chomping at the bit.

You know who you are, Case Closed.

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Sign me up for the ZZ Top and some Brews. If you want to have a real life 30 minute conversation about a very serious topic, go to my website pmgoldring.com and hit me up. Cheers!

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If you want to have a real life...conversation...go to my website...

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So Peter, are you still a subscriber to this site "run by a bloviating industry dropout" and its' "uneducated rehetoric"

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I am still a subscriber. As an expert witness and industry analyst, I am often asked about IPVM and enjoy every chance I get to debunk their dribble.

NOTICE: This comment has been moved to its own discussion: "As An Expert Witness And Industry Analyst, I Am Often Asked About IPVM And Enjoy Every Chance I Get To Debunk Their Dribble."

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It is reprehensible that UL would try to sweep this matter under the rug.

what rug? UL responded and seemed to take 'this matter' seriously enough... you just disagree with their rebuttal position.

UL has falsified business records... In this case the listing was given based on reports that were false. I believe there is criminality involved.

not sure I follow your legal analysis here... you are claiming that not only did UL know about this 'design flaw' (to use your characterization) - but that they approved the listing knowing that the panel didn't meet their own standards?

good luck with that line of reasoning.

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A true "Security Person", one that truly cares and has a passion about the safety and well being of people in my opinion would not want to profit off of this supposed critial issue. If this is truly a dire consequence waiting to happen with the affected amount of alarm panels that have been installed over the years then why wouldn't someone, like the inventors of this product, want to share the technology of this device to the world so that this issue can get corrected.

As I have stated in previous posts, the security industry has turned into a truly for personal gains only industry and not actually helping people secure and protect their property and lives. I understand people are in business to make a profit, everyone is, but sometimes shouldn't safety trump profits?

A true humanitarian would not want to profit of of this but rather do whatever they can to help keep people safe!

Also what if the Interceptor fails? Who is at fault then? It is man made correct? I actually see what could potentially be a flaw in their system but what do I know.

Also does this truly make a system safer or not? A statement off of their brochure doesn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Note there could be an updated version of this document but at writing time of this post there website was down for maintenance or something.

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Wrong. While this may be an overblown issue that you should question whether is a real problem, don't let your concerns/philosophy about intent cloud your judgment about anyone's solution to an actual problem or need. The vast majority of useful products and methods come from those people profiting from developing those products and methods.

Look at everything a smart phone can do to help people and save lives, and then try making your comment. It could go something like: "Steve Jobs and the other iPhone developers and people at Apple cannot be true humanitarians! If they were they would be giving away iPhones because of all the good that can be done with them!" (Ignore any verb tense issues due to Jobs' passing.) I'll take skilled developers and a company that backs up their products with a goal of 100% customer satisfaction all day long over "humanitarians", especially since the majority of the latter seem driven by virtue signaling over the past couple decades at least.

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Steve Jobs and the other iPhone developers and people at Apple cannot be true humanitarians! If they were they would be giving away iPhones because of all the good that can be done with them!

did Jobs sue the FCC because their phones saved lives others didn’t?

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"don't let your concerns/philosophy about intent cloud your judgment about anyone's solution to an actual problem or need. The vast majority of useful products and methods come from those people profiting from developing those products and methods."

nice soliloquy - but the ability to profit from one's inventions is not the issue here, imo. I don't think anyone is arguing against that.

instead, I think what is most problematic - at least to me - are Zwirn's new marketing tactics.

he jumped onto IPVM a while back and attempted to convince IPVM subscribers of the value of his invention - to mixed results (and I'm being generous here).

so then he recruits some hired marketing guns and changes tactics, attempting to strong-arm UL with (imo) ridiculous litigation?

your Steve Jobs analogy is apples to this orange.

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Go back and re-read Shannon's comment, which is what I was addressing. It's much more general than this specific issue.

I agree that these tactics by Zwirn and the others involved is very problematic.

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