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Next Generation 911: The bomb's still ticking

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

 

The U.S. House did the alarm industry no favors Tuesday night.

By passing H.R. 3630, “The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011,” House members said yes to extending the Social Security payroll tax deduction and sent the contentious bill to the Senate. While you’d be hard-pressed to find a central operator who opposes tax relief or job creation, the bill is laden with a stealth bomb: Next Generation 911, which in its present form would allow emergency calls from alarm systems to be sent directly to PSAPs without verification.

Bypassing centrals is obviously a non-starter for the industry, which has now shifted its lobbying effort to the Senate. That’s where members of the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) were laboring at week’s end, proposing new language in the bill to safeguard centrals and prevent the inundation of 911 centers with unscreened sensor-generated calls.

Lou Fiore, chairman of the AICC, provided Security Systems News with an update this morning and sounded cautiously optimistic about turning the tide. He said six key senators, including Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., had been receptive to the industry’s concerns.

“They listened very attentively to our proposals,” Fiore said. “They totally understand our issue. Tomorrow we have a conference call with (Democratic Rep. Anna) Eshoo on the House side, who’s on the committee that drafted the original bill.”

That’s important, Fiore said, because when things finally get hashed out in the Senate, a new version of the bill will head back to the House for approval. If lawmakers there didn’t get the industry’s message the first time around, this time “they’ll know what our issues are,” he said.

The timing is a little dicey because of all of the partisan grandstanding, but the smart money says sooner rather than later. “I know these people want to go home for the holidays,” Fiore said. “It’s down to crunch time.”