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Fire services trump alarm industry on NFPA vote

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On June 25, in Chicago, the NFPA held its annual meeting, but the alarm industry was concerned about two motions on NFPA 72, which would effectively give local municipalities the authority to disallow the use of listed central stations for fire alarm monitoring.

Ultimately, motion 72-8 passed with a vote of 142-80, giving municipalities that discretion. Motion 72-9, which would have removed the line referring to central stations completely, was withdrawn after 72-8 passed.

Kevin Lehan, executive director for the Illinois Electronic Security Associaiton, told Security Systems News that there were some beneficial aspects to the meeting for the alarm industry. “Previously the language said ‘alternate location approved by the authority having jurisdiction.’ Now the language specifically says ‘listed central supervising station.’” Lehan said that this specific mention will help central stations through being now a specific entity as opposed to the previously vague language.

“We were thrilled to be able to get the numbers out that we did.” Lehan said, pointing out that the vote, being on June 25, happened at the same time as ESX. “We mobilized very well, we just have to inform and entice the rest of the alarm installer community to be active in the NFPA going forward.”

“What we learned at this event is that there is a disconnect between the industry and the fire services,” Lehan said. The two sides of the argument, fire departments and the alarm industry were approaching the matter from very different perspectives.

“The fire services, their testimony came across as stating that central stations are unsafe. We have heard for a few years, and this was echoed at that [NFPA] meeting, anecdotal situations whereby the private alarm industry failed in dispatching [without more specific details on the alarm event]. When we ask for specific situations when this has happened, we do not get a response," he said.

“On the private industry side, it’s the same position that we’ve always had, allow us to compete for business. Let UL listed central stations perform to NFPA code standards, and let the market choose service providers,” said Lehan.

Lehan said that the idea of creating a forum for fire services and the alarm industry to communicate better had come up in discussions following the meeting, and that may be further developed in the future, Lehan said. 

Monitoring companies called to action at NFPA meeting

Code’s language could create a ‘monopoly,’ shut out professional monitoring companies
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06/15/2015

CHICAGO—Alarm monitoring organizations, including CSAA and IESA, are rallying the industry to vote on two motions at the NFPA’s annual meeting, scheduled to take place June 25.

Monitoring companies called to action on NFPA vote

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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The alarm monitoring industry is taking notice of the NFPA. There are two motions proposed for vote at NFPA’s meeting this year that could have a serious impact on the industry. This pair of motions directly refers to the NFPA 72 Nation Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, which, in the current draft of the 2016 edition states that listed central stations can be used for fire alarm monitoring. A group based in northern Illinois opposes this language, and seeks to alter it, giving local municipalities more authority in the matter.

“What’s happening in Chicago is that some of these communities are operating their own monitoring center. … This [code] would enable that community to have an effective monopoly on alarm monitoring,” said Kevin Lehan, executive director for the Illinois Electronic Security Association and EMERgency24’s manager of public relations.

Lehan noted that, while the authority pushing these motions is from Chicago, it is still a national code. “This is a nationwide problem. If this can happen in Illinois … it could happen in [any community].”

Jay Hauhn, CSAA's executive director, agreed, saying that if either of the motions passed, “other municipalities may see it as a revenue opportunity and also seek to prohibit the use of non-government monitoring centers.”

“The big problem is: This is happening in Illinois, and it’s being challenged by the Illinois fire inspectors,” Ed Bonifas, executive VP of Alarm Detection Systems, told me. “The fire departments that feel this way the most can come out in force, because it happens to be here.”

The vote will be held at the NFPA’s 2015 meeting, at McCormick Place in Chicago, June 25. In order to vote, you must have been a member of NFPA before Dec. 25, 2014, and you must be there in person to vote.

“Right now the language that is in place … for the revised 2016 edition states that the AHJ shall allow central stations to provide this service,” Lehan said. The first motion, 72-8, seeks to alter this language, adding the prefix "When permitted by the Authority Having Jurisdiction,” again giving the AHJ the ability to disallow independent central stations as an option for fire alarm monitoring. This motion would revert the language to how it appeared in the previous, 2013, edition.

The second motion affecting this code, motion 72-9, would entirely strike the line referring to central stations, 26.5.3.1.3, from the code. CSAA, as well as others in the industry, are pushing for a negative vote for both motions.

“If either one of those motions passes, customers will not necessarily … have the ability to use UL-listed monitoring centers for their [fire monitoring],” Hauhn said. 

“The alarm industry here in Illinois has been struggling with the fire service that wants to monitor alarms and prevent alarm companies from doing the same,” Bonifas said. “It’s my contention that there’s a huge conflict of interest when the authority—the fire department—is participating in the business, and then is able to be the one to decide who else can participate,” he said.

A negative vote on both motions would not exclude municipalities from providing monitoring, but instead, ensure that listed central stations are an option.

“All the monitoring industry is trying to do is level the playing field so that government run monitoring centers must meet the same high standards that commercially operated monitoring centers adhere to,” Hauhn said.

“The 2016 draft of the code that’s being considered right now has new language in it that says that listed central stations can monitor alarms. … That sets up a competitive landscape; government can monitor alarms, and private companies can if they follow the code,” Bonifas said. “Competition is good for the consumer because it creates better pricing, but it also creates better service."

New ‘bigger picture’ vision for NFPA

Fire group will unveil new vision at annual conference in June
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04/28/2015

QUINCY, Mass.—The National Fire Protection Association’s new vision and mission statement will include pursuing a deeper understanding of stakeholders and how the NFPA can help them do their jobs better, according to president Jim Pauley.

NFPA awards 2015 Jensen grant to fire department in Wisconsin

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04/21/2015

MILWAUKEE—The National Fire Protection Association has awarded the North Shore Fire Department of Milwaukee its $5,000 2015 Rolf H. Jensen Memorial Public Education Grant.

Solar is hot commodity—but can pose fire risks

Security companies branching out into the solar business should be aware of photovoltaic fire hazards
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08/18/2014

QUINCY, Mass.—As security companies get involved in solar panel installation, they should be aware of potential fire hazards posed by solar panels.

Study: Hybrid suppression systems need own standards

Part water mist, part gas suppression systems, the new technology isn’t addressed by current NFPA standards, new research concludes
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07/30/2014

QUINCY, Mass.—A hybrid fire suppression system is a combination water mist and gas suppression system, and because this new technology is a hybrid, there is no one NFPA standard that covers it. Should there be? A recently released study looked to answer that question.

NFPA honors former president with award in his name

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07/17/2014

In recognition of outstanding leadership, vision and commitment to reducing fire loss through advocacy, the NFPA honored outgoing President Jim Shannon with the first James M. Shannon Advocacy Medal.

New NFPA leader 'not a stranger' to organization

Jim Pauley, NFPA’s new president, has long history with group as member, volunteer, technical committee member
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07/11/2014

QUINCY, Mass.—Jim Pauley became the new president of the National Fire Protection Association on July 1, but he’s already familiar to many at the organization.

Wireless touted at NFPA show

Remote testing devices and FAAST that goes further were also among new offerings
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06/16/2014

LAS VEGAS— New developments when it comes to wireless fire solutions and aspirating smoke detectors were among offerings being touted at the annual NFPA Conference & Expo, held here June 9-12.

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