Code writers need volunteers

Development process relies on input from industry, others
Monday, September 1, 2003

SILVER SPRING, Md. - While efforts are underway at the National Fire Protection Association to devise installation and maintenance standards for security systems, similar efforts are struggling to get off the ground by other groups in an effort to bring their own version of those standards to the industry.
Through the Standards Committee of the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, the movement to develop guidelines, intended to be used by the installing community to provide standardization as well as minimum guidelines to adhere to, has moved slowly, and not for lack of effort - a lack of volunteers.

“We have been working on those for a couple of years, but it’s a slow process,” said Merlin Gilbeau, executive director of the NBFAA.

Most of the work on the standards has been done under the leadership of NBFAA President Cecil Hogan, where the organization has set a greater focus on an standard setting initiative but has been struggling for volunteers to provide input into the process.

Another stumbling block for the group could be achieving the American National Standards Institute certification for the development of standards, said Scot Colby, incoming president of the NBFAA and executive vice president of Bayou Security Systems in Shreveport, La., which the group is currently working on.

“We hope to get our approval and have our document finalized,” said Colby. “These standards would definitely help to raise the bar and standardize thing and ensure installations are done to a standard and not just to somebody’s personal mindset.”

One option for the NBFAA is to use a canvas process to develop the standards, which takes into account opinions from the industry and the public at large but would be a lengthy process. Or, the group could develop the standards in conjunction with another organization.

The advantages of using the ANSI process, said Mark Visbal, associate director of standards and technology at the Security Industry Association, is that the process is certified to have been open and fair.

“On the back-end, once you want it to be ANSI, they look at the process of producing the standard,” Visbal said. “They are not looking at the content or the political climate.”

Although slightly different, SIA is also developing more product-based standards for performance and testing through the ANSI process.

“Due to the amount of consolidation in the industry over the past two to three years, we found our volunteer base to be quite busy,” Visbal said.