SIAC tackles fire alarm ordinances

Thursday, April 10, 2008

FRISCO, Texas--Wanting to avoid a situation where onerous fire alarm ordinances become commonplace, the Security Industry Alarm Coalition announced in March that it's launching a proactive effort to help communities develop effective fire alarm ordinances.
"We wanted to get ahead of the curve on the fire alarm side," said Stan Martin, executive director of SIAC. SIAC comprises the NBFAA, CSAA, CANASA and the Security Industry Association and is the entity charged with overseeing alarm management issues.
SIAC has hired Luther Fincher, who has 21-years of experience as a fire chief with the Charlotte Fire Department. "It's a new venture for SIAC and for me," he said.
Fincher's first task is researching the issue, particularly the cause of false dispatches. He'll be reaching out to the International Fire Chiefs Association and others to let communities know that SIAC "is willing to work with you and it's not going to cost you anything."
Martin said that SIAC wanted to ensure that it would not be duplicating efforts by other groups. Unlike the burglar alarm false alarm problem, where there is a fair amount of research being done, there are fewer statistics available for the fire alarm false dispatches. "We need to take a little time to analyze the current sense of the fire industry," he said. Preliminary research shows that while false dispatches "are much lower than on the burglar alarm side, we find similar issues ... [and] nuisance fire dispatches are a problem."
One issue, he said, is defining a false dispatch. Another major issue appears to be maintenance of fire alarm systems. Fire alarm ordinances are, in some ways, more complicated than regular alarm ordinances, Martin noted, because many entities regulate these products and their installation, such as UL, AHJ's that specify, and the NFPA codes that are adopted and adjusted in different states and jurisdictions.
Before SIAC decided to expand its charter to include fire alarm ordinances, it had received requests from "several fire departments asking us to help them out with ordinances or answer questions and we were not really able to respond because it was outside the scope of our work," Martin said. In addition, in the last year SIAC became aware of ordinances being enacted that "were more extreme with fines or response issues."