Revised law to clear up N.Y. licensing flap

Rewording of 6D should end requirements installers get a local license as well as a state one
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

ALBANY, N.Y.—A state committee has recommended that state law governing the licensing of alarm installers be reworded to make clear local governments can’t require installers to have a local license in addition to their mandated state one, according to Joseph Hayes, president of the New York Burglar & Fire Alarm Association.

The rewording of Article 6D is expected to end a new trend by municipalities to require installers to obtain an additional license, which Hayes and others say adds to installers’ cost of doing business and is prohibited by state law.

Hayes told Security Systems News that after hearing from the industry, the state’s Security or Fire Alarm Systems Advisory Committee recommended at its Aug. 31 meeting that the state reword the law.

“It’s more of a clarification issue, and it’s not legislative, it’s a regulation change, so that can be done without going back to the Legislature,” Hayes told SSN in early September. He said he expected the revision to take place soon.

He said New York state already licenses alarm installers, so requiring them to have another local license is tantamount to local communities demanding drivers have a local driver’s license in addition to their state one.

He said that the problem arose because 6D, written in 1992, contained an exception that said a state alarm license was not required for installing the wiring and conduits associated with an alarm system.

The exclusion, Hayes said, was intended to allow an alarm company to hire an electrical contractor to do the wiring while the alarm company installed the devices. “Had that exclusion not been there, the local electrician would have to have gotten an alarm license, which didn’t make any sense,” Hayes said.

However, he said, local governments recently began using that exclusion to tell alarm companies, “you can install the alarm systems but if you want to run wire or a conduit, you need to have a [local] license.”

Now, Hayes said, “that exclusion is being reviewed by the [state] Division of Licensing Services. We brought that up to them, and new regulations will be issued with that exclusion reworded.”

Also at its Aug. 31 meeting, the state advisory committee gave a preliminary endorsement to an industry proposal that local governments pass ordinances that allow them to assess fines on alarm companies that don’t have their required 6D state license, Hayes said.

He said the change would benefit the industry—by making sure only reputable, licensed alarm companies are doing business in the state—and local municipalities, because they could keep the fine revenue they collect.

Hayes said the local ordinance idea came from a NYBFAA local chapter, the Elmsford, N.Y.-based Regional Alarm Systems Integrators Association, which was concerned that the state wasn’t enforcing license requirements vigorously enough.

New York has only 42 investigators covering a multitude of professions that need licensing, ranging from barbers to real estate brokers to armored car services, throughout the entire state, Hayes said.

So, he said, the local chapter “suggested that instead of relying on the state for enforcement that we go to local communities … and have them pass a local law referencing state law.”

If a local community has an ordinance requiring an alarm company to have a state license to operate within its borders, then the community can keep the fee from any violation of that ordinance, instead of sending the money to the state, Hayes said.

Hayes, who attended the Aug. 31 advisory committee meeting, said he asked whether the state had “any issues with local communities enforcing the license. And their answer was ‘Absolutely not.’ They welcome the help.”

He said Division of Licensing Services plans to refer the issue to its counsel for final legal review, but Hayes said the local chapter feels confident enough to start working with local communities to promote the passage of such ordinances.