Fire group merges into GBFAA

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Saturday, March 1, 2003

DULUTH, Ga. - The group representing fire alarm dealers in Georgia in late January joined with the Georgia Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, the second group to join an alarm association within a year.

Declining membership in the Georgia Automatic Fire Alarm Association over the past few years had led to talks between the two groups in the past five or six years, according to Pat Cook, executive director of the GBFAA. The decision made last summer by the Washington Burglar & Fire Alarm Association and the Washington Automatic Fire Alarm Association to merged under the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association had no bearing in Georgia since talks there had begun well before the Washington groups made their announcement, Cook said.

“It finally got to the point where something had to be done for the benefit of the industry,” Cook said.

While the joining of the two groups was termed a merger, the combining of the two groups “was more of a dissolving of the GAFAA into the GBFAA membership,” according to Coute Cooley, president of the GBFAA and president and owner of Electronic Sales Co. in Gainsville, Ga. Not all of the GAFAA’s members immediately joined the GBFAA, a charter state association of the NBFAA. Instead, members will be received as regular new members into the group, with all new members from the fire alarm group expected to be on board at the GBFAA’s next quarterly meeting in April. About one third of GAFAA’s members, mostly distributors and manufacturer members, belonged to both groups.  The combined group now boasts about 180 members.

“We are soliciting every one of those members, naturally,” Cooley said.

Although there was not a formal vote approving the merger at a GAFAA meeting, GAFAA members were mailed a letter from GAFAA President Richard Bennett and the group’s vice president detailing the plans for the association with an invitation to contact the group’s leadership with concerns, Bennett said. Neither officer received any opposition to the combining of the groups, he said.

“In some areas, we were doing a lot of duplication and some members felt it was a waste of energy and money and that the industry could be better served if we merged,” said Richard Bennett, president of the GAFAA. To better accommodate the combined group’s new fire members, an expanded committee was approved and written into the GBFAA’s bylaws in January that will address the commercial fire market, Bennett said.

“It was a marriage of two different groups that, with what they are covering now, is better representative to the whole systems type industry,” Bennett said.

Larry Neibauer, president and executive director of the Automatic Fire Alarm Association, based in Lake Mary, Fla., said that he was not aware that the Georgia groups had merged and that the GAFAA had not been an active association of the AFAA for some time. The AFAA has about 20 state associations in the U.S.