Ohio reviews competing licensing bills

Saturday, January 1, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Burglar & Fire Alarm Association recently introduced legislation to require state licenses and background checks for installers of low-voltage systems. Not long after, a second legislation venture to make security systems installers receive an electrical contactor’s license gained the attention of the OBFAA.

The legislation movement is fashioned in an effort to improve standards and oversight within Ohio’s electronic security industry. Currently, Ohio does not have a uniform state law necessitating licensing.

House Bill 312, sponsored by the OBFAA, will require training, continuing education, licensing and background checks for all security system installers.

“(We want to) raise the level of professionalism,” said Ron Stake, chairman of the governmental affairs committee and voluntary OBFAA lobbyist.

But many state security system installers expressed concerns about the second legislative proposal, electrical license Bill 396 and the ramifications it could bring to the industry.

According to Stake, there could be a decline in security system installers if the electrical license bill gets approval.

He noted in order to become a certified electrician, a person needs to take lengthy classes and enroll into an apprentice program. Electricians usually teach one apprentice at a time and the person then becomes affiliated with that electrician.

The bill addresses a background check that will allow convicted felons access to installation five years after they are in the industry.

The electrical contractor’s license would hinder installers in the long run because like many other states, Ohio’s security systems installers are small-operated businesses, Stake said.

“The small guys and girls of the business will be hurt,” he said. “You can’t get a license overnight.”

At press time in early December, both house bills were dropped by the legislative assembly, but were scheduled to be reintroduced when the new session begins this year.