NBFAA initiative touts fire detection on The Hill

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Tuesday, November 1, 2005

WASHINGTON--On Capitol Hill, fire safety advocates have embarked on a new initiative to raise awareness about fire detection equipment.
Their motto, "Fire detection plus fire suppression equals fire safety," seeks to remind people that the safest environment has both fire detection and fire suppression equipment professionally installed, said John Chwat, director of government relations for the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association.
Many members of Congress understand the benefits of fire sprinklers, he said, but fewer understand the nuance between fire suppression and detection equipment and how the two work best in tandem.
For a number of years fire suppression advocates have been hard at work on The Hill.
"Most of the legislation that is pending is from the fire suppression community; we want to bring the understanding of fire detection in Congress to the same level," Chwat said.
The NBFAA is targeting outreach and education efforts to members of the Congressional Fire Service Caucus and those who sit on certain committees.
And, NBFAA's efforts extend beyond the Beltway.
After Chwat and other advocates discuss these issues one-on-one with the officials in Washington, local chapters of the NBFAA--NBFAA Charter State Associations--follow up in the members' home districts.
Pitching in are trade associations--such as the National Fire Protection Association, the American Fire Sprinkler Association and many others--that are members of the Congressional Fire Service Institute.
Many manufacturers, dealers and installers learned about the initiative at the ISC East trade show in New York City this summer, and will be called on to contact their elected state representatives.
"Many expressed great interest to Merlin (Guilbeau, executive director of NBFAA) at ISC East about this initiative," Chwat said. "When they weigh in with their congressional representatives, it will be a major boost for the initiative."
Passage of legislation is a year or two out, but Chwat is confident that potential legislation requiring fire detection equipment in certain venues, or financial incentives to encourage installation will be on the table for discussion in committees during the next session, which begins in January.