The votes are in: NFPA 731 passes

NFPA members okay the adoption of a much debated set of security installation standards
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Friday, July 1, 2005

LAS VEGAS--The National Fire Protection Association's 731 standard for the Installation of Electronic Premises Security Systems, that divided the industry, passed the association's voting process last month at the NFPA World Safety Conference and Exposition here.
But the nine National Burglar & Fire Alarm Assocation members who attended the meeting questioned the fairness of the NFPA 731 vote outcome and planned to file an appeal to the standards committee within 20 days of the vote. However, the group's efforts will need to be matched by other security associations, noted Scot Colby, president of the NBFAA.
"It will take more than one letter to appeal the standard. The smallest dealers to the large manufacturers need to pay attention to what this standard will affect," he said.
NFPA members from sectors ranging from roof carpentry to compressed natural gas, attended the meeting. As NFPA members, these groups voted on all the standards discussed, including the security standard when it was introduced on the floor.
Some NFPA members in attendance didn't have an understanding of the security industry or the repercussions of the vote, claimed Colby.
"It's a travesty to the industry," Colby said. "Basically, I have to compare it to a car mechanic doing brain surgery with how the people voted."
Five security members made arguments on the floor to return the document to the Premises Security Technical Committee, while others, presented discussions in favor of the standard. In the end, the consensus was to approve NFPA 731, which effectively developed a standard in the design and installation of electronic security systems.
Although the NFPA 731 standard is non-binding until municipalities adopt it into law, the association wants the standard to be evaluated again. Rich Bielen, chief systems and applications engineer at NFPA, said the standards committee council will listened to appeals and then will meet in the middle of July to review the appeals and make a decision.
Earlier in May, the NBFAA developed a position paper to redraft the standard, expressing concern that current equipment in the industry would not meet the standard.
"It does not take into consideration small businesses and multiple family houses not mandated to have a system installed through insurance," Colby said.
Equipment alterations could also invite expenses to the industry he added.
"There will be increased costs," he said. "And with increased costs, systems would potentially not be installed."
Although the NBFAA has a large footprint to appeal the standard, some industry associations are happy with outcome.
The False Alarm Reduction Association favored the adoption of NFPA 731. Under its mission, the standard provides equipment requirements, and design and installation training standards that will help to reduce false alarms.
"The board agreed that this is long passed due," said Norma Beaubien, FARA president. "We feel like this standard is the next level to improve quality of systems and help reduce false alarms."
Although other associations had concerns of equipment capability of the standard the AHJ's adopt what they want, and exclude what doesn't work for them," Beaubien said.
The NBFAA fears that if municipalities adopt it, it could stifle the alarm industry.
"We do not oppose the standard, but do want it livable to this industry. Hopefully, the standards committee will allow the standard to be corrected," Colby said.
Colby added that if the NFPA develops security standards, then it should develop a security meeting and remove the other committees. "So, the vote can be done fairly, and people who are qualified to vote are present," he said.