NFPA to vote on dispatcher rule

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Friday, March 1, 2002

QUINCY, Mass.-A proposed change to NFPA 72 that would waive minimum requirements for central stations with less than a certain number of monitored accounts has been opposed by the Alarm Association of Florida.

Submitted by Scot Colby, vice president of Bayou Security Systems Inc. and president of the Louisiana Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, the Tentative Interim Amendment would reduce to one the number of dispatchers required to be on duty at one time to monitor fire signals. That would only apply for stations that monitor less than 4,000 accounts.

Colby submitted the TIA because he said the requirement could pose signficant financial hardship on a small central station, with costs coming close to $74,000 a year to hire five-additional dispatchers. Because fewer accounts are monitored, he argued, the likelihood in smaller of receiving an actual fire alarm while at the same time having the only dispatcher unavailable to answer the call.

Roy Pollack, immediate past president for the Alarm Association of Florida, said that his organization opposes the change and submitted a position paper voicing their concerns to the NFPA. The NFPA voted to change the language of the fire code from "sufficient personnel" to sufficient personnel, but not less than two persons" in a vote in 1999.

"The NFPA recognized the fact thatwe need at least two people on duty at a center station, and we agree with that," Pollack said.

Pollack and other critics of the change argue that life safety concerns outweigh financial issues and that companies without sufficient resources shouldn't be allowed to tackle alarm monitoring because of the risk of failure.

Comments on the TIA were due at the end of May, with a vote scheduled at a meeting in July.