UL, Intertek announce support for ASAP

The testing labs find the program to speed the delivery of alarm notifications meets national standards
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CAMAS, Wash. and FAIRFIELD, N.J.—The monitoring industry’s Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) got a big boost recently when Underwriters Laboratories and Intertek both announced that the new program meets the requirements of the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (NFPA 72).

ASAP, developed by the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials, has been deployed in Houston, Richmond, Va., and York County, Va., with plans to take it nationwide. ASAP speeds the delivery of alarm notifications to public safety answering points (PSAPs) by providing information via computer instead of phone from a central station.

“The analysis of the results of how emergency calls were handled during the recent mid-Atlantic earthquake and how notifications are handled day to day by the city of Houston’s Emergency Center are compelling,” said Chris Hasbrook, vice president for buildings, fire, life safety and security for Washington-based Underwriters Labs. “After a technical review of NFPA 72, the model code that governs these important life safety functions, UL found the ASAP-to-PSAP program consistent with the language and intent of (the code).”

Ed Bonifas, past president of the CSAA and co-chairman of the group’s ASAP committee, said the importance of UL and Intertek (ETL) certification extends beyond the monitoring industry.

“(Companies) are coming on board with this program with reckless abandon right now, so the alarm industry isn’t more or less likely to do this based on the acceptance that we just got,” he said. “But at the same time, we’re looking for public safety to adopt this as well. I think that showing compliance with the fire codes is a really valuable tool to help PSAPs accept that this is an OK way to take signals. (UL and ETL) are both really helpful to have on board, because nobody will question the acceptability of this for fire alarm communication.”

Tom Connaughton, director of global life safety and security services for New Jersey-based Intertek, said ASAP earned the testing laboratory’s ETL mark after a review that lasted about a week.

“We have a program manager and lead engineer who has 18 to 19 years of experience in this area,” Connaughton said. “We had him and his team sit down with the protocols and basically compare them to the (alarm communication) standard in which they’re experts, do a technical assessment and provide feedback. The results were positive.”

Connaughton said Intertek is in the process of incorporating ASAP into its alarm certification program and education materials.

“Intertek views this as the first step in the implementation of this vast technological development,” he said. “We see the need for it in the reduction of nuisance alarms and getting our police officers and first responders responding to real incidents instead of chasing phantoms.”