Video monitoring firm Westec gets behind Intertek ETL

UL says claims of slow processing and rigidity are off base
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

DALLAS—Westec Intelligent Surveillance, a provider of remote video monitoring services based here, has passed an Alarm System Certification audit conducted by Intertek, an independent third-party, nationally recognized testing lab and certification agency. The ETL Listing mark signifies Westec has been audited and has met or exceeded industry-recognized specifications and rigorous safety standards.

Westec is one the first high-tech video surveillance companies to get behind Intertek and seek vetting of its UL-specified standards through the NRTL, which is relatively new to the security industry. What does this say to the other testing labs?

“We’re the new kids on the block, but the differentiators are choice and service—we’re willing to work with clients to meet the requirements of NFPA 72 or UL 827. We’re a partner. We support the industry with whatever their needs are,” said Intertek national sales manager for Life Safety and Security Jeff Baum. “Westec’s highly innovative and high-tech and so are we. We’re very fast-paced and the key was timing. We were able, from start to finish, to get the whole thing done in 15 days … I can only guess how they compare, but I think you’re talking about months versus days.”

According to UL global marketing director Rob Tockarshewsky speed—or lack thereof—has never been an issue. “ETL’s sound bite has always been—from a product testing standpoint—‘We’re quicker,’” Tockarshewsky said. “UL has been consistent in being able to turn around within an average of 15 business days. The 15 days I mention would be from the time a quote is accepted by the customer, through the actual site visit, to the project close and a Listing granted the central station.”

According to Westec EVP and chief technology officer Jon Bolen the choice to go through the new NRTL was a matter of chemistry. “You may say, ‘Well, you’re certified to the UL standard, but you chose ETL? How did that happen?’ Getting certified to the UL standard is a long and rather arduous process … There’s certainly a huge value in getting your central station UL certification, but we’re video verification, we’re rapid response, and when we read these standards, they don’t speak to what we do,” Bolen said. “The marketplace has told us, ‘We need to be sure you’ve done your homework’ … But we still didn’t choose to go out and get the UL Listing because it wasn’t a perfect fit … we needed to find a partner who wanted to navigate this with us, and so we chose ETL because of the relationship we immediately formed with them.”

Tockarshewsky said there had been discussions of a possible video-monitoring category, but so far no concrete plans were in place to develop one. “There are subcommittees that are taking place where it’s being discussed whether or not to modify existing standards,” Tockarshewsky said. “No matter who gives them their mark, it doesn’t say anything about video.”

Baum said the competition Intertek ETL has brought to the market was healthy. “We provide a choice to the industry … To become listed for a central monitoring station there were only two choices—UL and FM,” Baum said. “UL can be rather rigid. We’re more geared toward functioning as a partner.”

 

Tockarshewsky said UL’s perceived rigidity was simply a function of the company following protocol, which is more than a little important when you’re a testing house. “The work we do is based on consensus-based standards and the testing that we do is supposed to be reasonable and repeatable,” Tockarshewsky said. “So it’s pretty cut and dry. We’re testing to how a standard has been written.”

 

Some of Intertek ETL’s other security partners include New York Merchants Protective Co., Devcon Security, and Mace CSSS.