Government Watch

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

NBFAA readies for Capitol Hill Day
The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association "Capitol Hill Day," May 1 and 2, will bring NBFAA members from across the country to the nation's capital to meet with government officials and discuss the interests of the alarm industry.
The event will kick off May 1 with a dinner at the U.S. Capitol. Day two will begin with a briefing and full day of visits to legislative and executive office personnel. Among the NBFAA's 2007 legislative and policy objectives are: legislation requiring fire alarms to be professionally installed in colleges, universities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospices; the promotion of NBFAA's campaign started last year, "Fire Detection + Fire Suppression = Fire Safety"; a federal tax deduction for professionally installed security devices in commercial and residential buildings; requiring public areas that meet certain criteria to install surveillance cameras; VoIP consumer notification legislation; Government Withholding Tax Repeal legislation; and a delay of the FCC Analog Mobile Phone System (AMPS) sunset deadline.

NBFAA to talk to CMS about sprinkler regs
Executives from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare--which proposed a regulation that would require nursing homes to install sprinkler systems if they wish to continue to serve Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries in October 2006--have agreed to meet with NBFAA officials on May 1 to hear NBFAA concerns about the regulation.
The regulation, which has yet to be finalized, has been lauded by the sprinkler industry.
CMS has already adopted NFPA sprinkler codes and sprinklers are required in all new nursing homes and in any nursing home that undergoes significant renovations. Older nursing homes have not previously been required by CMS to have sprinklers. Somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 nursing homes will be affected by this regulation, although most of those homes have partial sprinkler systems in place. CMS estimates that there are 18,000 nursing homes in the United States. Close to 100 percent serve Medicaid or Medicare beneficiaries or both.
John Chwat, NBFAA legislative director, and Merlin Guilbeau, NBFAA executive director, will meet with CMS officials on May 1. "We plan to summarize our presentation [submitted earlier, which requests that] CMS reconsider the rule to permit life-safety fire alarms be included in the regulation," Chwat said. NBFAA has other concerns about he regulation "preempting state building codes and ignoring the process," Chwat said.
Chwat noted that the cost of installing and maintaining the sprinklers will run into "hundreds of millions of dollars over a 10-year period." Chwat called the proposed regulation a "major issue that the NBFAA is greatly interested in pursuing" and said the meeting will be a "very important first step to equalizing [considerations for installing] fire suppression and fire detection technology."