Mass. association adopts new name, MSCA

The change from MBFAA to MSCA is aimed at opening doors for members
Saturday, March 1, 2003

WILMINGTON, Mass. - In an unprecedented move, the Massachusetts Burglar & Fire Alarm Association announced it adopted a new name to combat legislation aimed at precluding alarm companies from doing telecommunications related work.

Now known as the Massachusetts Systems Contractors Association, officials of the trade association expect the new name will allow members to continue with business as usual and provide future opportunity.

“The first, main reason is we needed to protect our rights as licensed systems contractors in the state,” said Wells Sampson, vice president of American Alarm & Communications and a member of the association’s legislative committee.

Recent legislative initiatives in Massachusetts sought to preclude alarm companies from telecommunications jobs and instead assign that work to others, said Gloria Craven, of Craven & Ober Policy Strategists, a lobbying firm hired by the association to work on legislation and provide direction on the name change.

“It wasn’t to walk away from burglar and fire, but to be very inclusive of all the categories of work that they’re licensed to perform,” said Craven. “The name change makes a difference politically. Since the name was burglar and fire alarm, there was a legislative attempt to restrict them to what their name said.”

The association worked for about a year on the name change before bringing it and the six reasons behind the adoption of a new name to members for approval. “People were all supportive,” said Sampson, including the most senior members of the association.

Besides wanting to protect the association’s rights as a licensed system contractor, the name change is in alignment with a new federal definition of the word “system.” It is also expected to protect the association politically in the state legislature. And, the new name is consistent with a new job classification developed by the Department of Labor called electronic systems technician or EST.

While the new association name is consistent with the name used by the National Systems Contractors Association, the Massachusetts association remains affiliated with other alarm industry organizations.

“We’re still connected with the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, but we’re broadening our scope to include the National Systems Contractors Association,” said Sampson.

In the long run, the new association name is expected to help the group attract additional members and increase its pool of skilled labor by tapping into an educational program designed for systems contractors.

While it’s unclear whether other state alarm association may head in the same direction and adopt a new name, Sampson said other alarm groups are battling policies to preclude them from data, telecom and other system-related work.

“I haven’t heard of anybody doing it, but I have heard of others who are grappling with this land grab for control of this technology,” h said. “This debate is going on around the country where people are trying to get control of the telecom market. The systems people need to unify together.”