Name change, association makeover proposals come from NBFAA summit

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Wednesday, March 1, 2006

IRVING, Texas-- The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association hopes to do a lot more than just change its name to the Electronic Life Safety & Systems Association in the coming year--it also plans to develop technology focus groups and establish parameters for members of its board of directors.
The new name proposal is one of the most significant items to come out of a two-day strategic summit hosted by the NBFAA in late January. It would mark the first new name for the NBFAA in 50 years. The last time it changed its name was in the 1950s, when it incorporated the word fire.
Of the 33 voting board members who attended the summit, 31 gave the thumbs up for the NBFAA to move forward with adopting a new name. It will now go to NBFAA's 2,400 member companies for a vote.
"The term burglar is somewhat outdated," said Merlin Guilbeau, executive director of the NBFAA. "We felt as though it didn't accurately represent members today. They also do other things, like telecommunications, home theater, home automation and all the different aspects of low voltage work."
Guilbeau expects the new name to appeal to a broader audience and help attract new members. Today the national association lists 28 state member associations, plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. That number is down when compared with numbers from last year, when it reported 38 affiliated states.
Richard Perry, president of Security Networks in West Palm Beach, Fla., said if the name change is in conjunction with other initiatives, then it makes sense. Still, he said "it seems to me the NBFAA has a lot of brand awareness in the industry."
The NBFAA began flirting with idea of a new name five years ago, but the association could not come to a consensus. In 2003, it added a tagline to its name, Electronic Life Safety, Security & Systems Professionals. The proposed new association name was derived from that.
The proposal for a new name for the NBFAA follows several state alarm associations adopting new names in recent years. Louisiana's recently took on the name Louisiana Life Safety and Security Association, while, in 2003, the Massachusetts Burglar & Fire Alarm Association became the Massachusetts Systems Contractors Association.
But a new name is not the only change the association has in store. It also intends to set up technology focus groups that will identify and communicate technology changes to the association's members. The focus groups would also serve as a forum for NBFAA's members to influence technological changes.
One item that will remain the same at the NBFAA is its Chartered State Association structure. Strategic summit participants looked at giving people a choice to become a member of the national association or just their state association, but decided to stick with requiring members of CSA's to also join nationals.
"Overwhelmingly, the consensus was to stand as one association," said Guilbeau. "When you join the state, you should join national."
The NBFAA planned to send out ballots to its member companies to vote on its proposed new name. Results are scheduled to be released at the ISC West Show, in Las Vegas, in early April.