Security standards open for review

Proposed codes go through first round of public comment
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Saturday, November 1, 2003

QUINCY, Mass. - Proposed standards from the National Fire Protection Association that would for the first time regulate the security industry under the NFPA’s purview are now available for public review as part of the association’s code setting process.

If adopted, NFPA 731 Installation of Premises Security Equipment would provide detailed instruction as to the application, installation, performance, testing and maintenance of security equipment and its accessory components. A second document, NFPA 730 Premises Security Code, is an outline of proposed guidelines for the minimum security needs in different types of occupancies.

The proposed codes, which mark NFPA’s move from its historical arena of fire and life safety, into the standards-making process in physical security. Critics in the security industry have said that the group is moving into the realm of security simply to increase its membership base, but others argue that the NFPA is best suited to formally develop standards for the security industry because of itsaccredited code development process. That procedure follows the guidelines of the American National Standards Institute, which ensures several steps to the process that guarantee input from members of the industry, NFPA membership and the general public.

Few, however, dispute the need for uniform standards in the security industry, which has historically been unregulated. In a Security Systems News NewsPoll conducted in September, 88 percent of respondents indicated that the industry needed one set of standards, mostly to raise the bar of professionalism in the industry and to work toward reducing false alarms.

This is the first public comment period for the two proposed security documents, according to Rich Bielen, chief systems and applications engineer for NFPA. The public has until Jan. 5, 2004, to review the drafts and submit any comments or suggestions, before the technical committee that originally developed the documents will meet and review the submitted comments. From that meeting, Bielen said, the committee will generate a Report on Proposal that takes into consideration all comments made on the proposed documents.

“Then the process starts all over again, with the public reviewing the proposal and getting a chance to submit their comments,” Bielen said. That public comment period will end Oct. 8., 2004, with the final draft of the document generated in December of that year.

If the documents are approved by NFPA membership at the annual meeting in May of 2005, the standards would be ready for adoption in September of 2005, Bielen said.

Like NFPA’s more than 300 other codes, standards and guidelines, the security standards would not become law in any municipality unless approved or referenced into law by AHJs.

“Before there were not a lot of standards out there for security that could readily be adopted into law,” Bielen said. “Now there will be something they can reference and use.”

The two documents, along with the NFPA form for submitting comment on the documents, are available for download at http://www.nfpa.org/Codes/Drafts.asp.