Certification fails by one vote

CSAA to file appeal with NFPA council for July meeting
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Monday, July 1, 2002

MINNEAPOLIS-Despite more than a year of rallying members to vote for the passage of NFPA 72-381, a proposal that would require that fire alarms be certified, failed by only one vote, 80-81. At least one alarm industry organization said it plans to file an appeal.

Taken late in the evening during the NFPA's World Safety Conference & Exposition held here in May, the vote wasn't well attended by NFPA members in the fire and burglar alarm industry because many were forced to leave the meeting to catch flights home, said Steve Doyle, executive director of the Central Station Alarm Association. The vote was expected to be held in the early afternoon.

Members of the CSAA and the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association have been trying to drum up a groundswell of support for Proposal 381 for at least the past year to replace the 1999 version of NFPA 72. The new version would have required an alarm system to have a "conspicuous indication of compliance" but would have allowed for three different ways to accomplish that: Underwriters Laboratories; placarding by FM Approvals, formerly known as Factory Mutual (see related story on page 16); and certification by another government agency or other AHJ approved entity, said Art Black, president of Carmel Fire Protection Associates in Carmel, Calif.

"A lot of people think that when they hear certification or placarding, they hear central station service...and they think what 381 tries to do is elevate remote station monitoring to central station service, then with all the requirements of the central station service," Black said. "It's not."

Doyle said an appeal has been filed with the Standards Council, who will make a final decision at its meeting in July. The council will consider the closeness of the floor vote, the CSAA's appeal as well as two separate votes by the Chapter Five committee - it oversees this portion of NFPA 72 - which voted prior to the May meeting to unanimously support 381. The committee was also recently re-balloted since the floor vote and decided overwhelmingly to continue to support the motion, said Black, president of the Chapter Five committee.

If the Standards Council upholds the floor vote, the code will remain as it reads in the 1999 NFPA-72. The CSAA said it plans to resubmit the proposal if 381 is turned down in July.