Las Vegas fire policy still under review

Saturday, June 1, 2002

LAS VEGAS-More than two months after meeting to discuss the Las Vegas Fire and Rescue's controversial verified response policy, officials at the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association and the LVFR are reviewing details of the policy to try to reach common ground.

Leaders of the NBFAA, the LVFR and the Nevada Association of Security Professionals met at the ISC Expo in March and established a dialogue. Now, leaders of the three groups are trying to understand specifics of the policy, such as exactly what type of situations fall under the verified response policy and which do not.

"We offered to help reduce false alarms first by offering a set of questions that they could try and answer for us describing what their response policy would officially be," said David Johnson, director of government relations for the NBFAA.

Fire officials in Las Vegas had completed the NBFAA's questionnaire and were preparing to return it to the NBFAA at press time, according to Deputy Chief Ken Riddle of the LVFR. The document contained a list of about 26 specific situations and queries from the NBFAA as to whether or not those situations would fall under the new policy, Riddle said.

"They understand our issues, and we understand their issues," Riddle said. "In some areas we could probably expand the verification to include other automatic devices other than human verification."

First instituted in February, the police said that Las Vegas fire personnel will respond to automatic fire alarms, such as panic pendants or those dispatched by a monitoring company, only when independently verified by a person on site.

As a result of the meeting in March, plans for grassroots opposition to the policy and the exploration of a public relations campaign or legal action has been put on hold so the two groups would have a chance to compromise, NBFAA officials said.

Part of the NBFAA's concern with such policies, according to NBFAA officials, is that other municipalities will also move to adopt similar measures without researching the policy's effects. Riddle said he had received calls from other cities, but had only heard complaints from two local fire companies about the policy.

Fire officials in Las Vegas were also set to provide the NBFAA with data to analyze in an effort to find the root of the problem, such as repeat false alarm offenders, Johnson said.

"If we could analyze that and show them a solution that would drastically reduce the amount of false alarms, then they can make an honest attempt to look at the policy again," Johnson said.

The city discontinued its response to burglar alarms in the 1990's to combat a serious false alarm rate. It's the same rationale behind the institution of the fire policy, Las Vegas officials have said, as well as fear for the safety of its personnel when responding to a fire alarm.

Both Johnson and Riddle said another meeting is likely after all sides had reviewed the new materials.