Florida licensing bill closer to reality

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Thursday, April 1, 2004

TALLAHASEE, Fla. - A proposed bill that would add false alarm training and second-call alarm verification requirements to licensing standards in Florida is one step closer to passage after being referred to the Florida Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee in early March.

Originally introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet (R-Bradenton) last November, the Electrical & Alarm System Contracts bill would amend an existing law that requires 12 hours of training, with no provision for false alarm training, in order for electrical and alarm system contractors to be licensed in the state.

The new bill would add a requirement for two hours of training in false alarm prevention and increase to 14 the number of hours of education required for licensure. This education must be completed every two years in order to maintain a license.

Not only does the bill have the blessing of the Alarm Association of Florida, but the association actively participated in the process, according to Bob Neely, executive director for the AAF.

“This is part of a larger ‘cleanup’ bill that we have been trying to pass for two years,” he said. “It addresses the leftover issues that have needed attention since the original was passed in 1998.”

Neely said the bill also calls for a requirement that central stations implement a second-call verification system for alarm activation. This requirement would be waived in the case of systems that include visual or auditory sensors that enable central station dispatchers to verify the signal.

“We feel that since the state requires 14 hours of continuing education every two years, then it is only natural that those responsible have the necessary training to help reduce alarm dispatches,” he said.

The reason the AAF supports this verification, Neely said, is the evidence that false alarm dispatches can be significantly reduced through the procedure.

“Repeated studies have shown nationally that [second-call verification] reduces the dispatches by an additional 40 to 60 percent over the initial reductions,” Neely said. “It only makes sense to put that into the requirements, as public safety resources are already strained to the limit in responding.”