The SAFETY Act and QATT: Legal Expert Speaks on Emergency Preparedness and Liability

David Trask| April 21, 2021

ARC was fortunate to feature legal risk manager and President of Petrone Risk, John Petrone in a recent webcast called, “Preparing for the Unpredictable: Emergency Preparedness and the SAFETY Act Journey.”

During the session, which was hosted by Campus Safety Magazine, Petrone covered the liability protections provided by the SAFETY Act for owners and user of Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology (QATT). He also discussed the act’s application throughout the development of a facility’s emergency preparedness program.SAFETY Act

Petrone reviewed strategies he uses when working with facilities teams to improve their likelihood of obtaining SAFETY Act Certification. These strategies included specific tactics aimed at establishing resilient security programs and effective emergency operation plans.

You should watch the webcast for Petrone’s in-depth analysis and insights, but this article will outline our key takeaways.

The SAFETY Act Provides Three Levels of Liability Protections for QATT Owners

The SAFETY Act’s liability protection applies to providers of what’s called “Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology” or QATT. The liability protection provided by the SAFETY Act may also flow down to users (or buyers) of the technology.

First, Petrone pointed out that there are three different levels of SAFETY Act liability protection that vary considerably. These three levels are listed below in increasing order of liability protection.

1. Developmental Testing and Evaluation Design (DTED)

At this level, you’re just beginning to test out your technology and formalize your plans. Petrone used the example of a new sports facility with top-of-the-line technology. Even though this facility may have great technology, it hasn’t been tested yet, so there’s still a ways to go before certification.

At this level, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will issue a “DTED acknowledgment” and determine your liability insurance limit. As Petrone mentioned, that could be a limit as low as $50 million or as high as $150 million depending on the size of your organization. However, DHS can revoke this liability protection at any time. Still, obtaining DTED acknowledgment gets you on the right track to certification.

2. Designation

Taking the sports facility example from above a step further, with designation, you have a plan but it hasn’t been tested enough to receive certification. The liability limit for Designation is again set by DHS, but there are fewer liability protection limits compared to a DTED acknowledgment.

3. Certification

With Certification, you have plans and technology in place and a large sample set of data to validate the resilience and effectiveness of your security program. The key with Certification is that, once it’s achieved, there is immunity from certain claims related to your use of the certified technology.

“Downstream Users” of the QATT May Be Protected

A key part of Petrone’s presentation focused on precisely who is protected from liability when SAFETY Act Certification is obtained. Because the law focuses on technology, the SAFETY Act refers to applicants as “sellers.” However, you don’t have to actually sell the technology to receive the liability protection provided by the SAFETY Act.

“Sellers are really owners and the owners of the QATT are those that provide the QATT to the customer.” This could include municipalities, arena or building owners, corporations, and more. It’s also worth noting that there can be more than one owner.

SAFETY Act can also protect people who contract with the owner of the QATT, also known as “downstream users.” That said, Petrone points out that this has not been tested.

Documentation is Key to SAFETY Act Application Approval

To achieve approval under the SAFETY Act, Petrone repeatedly emphasized the importance of documentation over a relevant sample set. This includes logs, checklists, staffing documentation, and training documentation to show QATT compliance.

Documentation is also necessary to show that the QATT performs as your plans say it should. This documentation will include your Quality Assurance Program, Red Team assessments, and other risk assessments. Finally, you’ll need documentation, such as incident reports, to prove that the QATT is safe for its intended use.

Facilities Teams Need Quick Access to Plan Specifics, Maps, and More

Petrone talked at length about Emergency Operation Plan (EOP) development. He discussed how important it is to include easy-to-Emergency Operation Planunderstand and specific plans to address threats. He also pointed out the importance of having reference materials such as maps and contacts lists.

However, Petrone placed special emphasis on what it means to have those reference materials and plans available on a mobile device. By using technology that makes the plan available in the palm of your hand, a facility team is more prepared because every team member will know exactly what they need to be doing.

Other Benefits of Going Through the SAFETY Act Application Process

Petrone noted that, in addition to liability protection, going through the SAFETY Act journey provides several important benefits to facilities teams. Among those benefits, he cited:

  • Better awareness of, and adherence to, industry standards
  • >Reduced chance of negative and distracting legal issues
  • Reduced risk for the organization
  • More robust and updated plans that accurately reflect protocol
  • Greater collaboration and cooperation among employees and contractors

Best Practices for Identifying Resiliency of Plans

One of the last things Petrone talked about before answering questions was how to ensure facility teams have a resilient security program. He provided several points of specific guidance. To him, a resilient security program is:

  1. A collection of information, resources, actions and procedures that have been tested and are ready for use.
  2. An ongoing project that is continually tested, retested, and tweaked to remain viable and current.
  3. Immediately accessible to key personnel who have familiarity with the plan. There should also be continuous checks to ensure that everyone has the skills and resources to carry out their duties.


Despite decades of legal experience, John Petrone said that he doesn’t know of any other acknowledgment or certification that provides legal immunity the way SAFETY Act Certification does. Suffice it to say, SAFETY Act Certification is a major milestone for any organization that uses Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology.

But, as we learned throughout the course of Petrone’s presentation, obtaining certification is no easy task.

Among other things, you’ll need complete organizational buy-in to stand any chance of obtaining certification. Key to that buy-in is making training and documentation easier and more intuitive for your entire team. That’s where ARC Facilities can come in, as Petrone mentioned, to enable more effective communication of any component of your security program.

To check out ARC Facilities, schedule a demo, or watch the webcast to see exactly how ARC Facilities can streamline your SAFETY Act journey.


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