CSAA and IAFC do some myth busting

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02/03/2011

The Central Station Alarm Association worked with the International Association of Fire Chiefs over the past year as the IAFC came up with some proposed NFPA code changes to combat the problem of frequent false alarms in commercial facilities. Now the two groups are fighting claims they’re “in bed” together and that the proposals are dangerous.

Since the IAFC submitted the proposed changes to NFPA 72 in the fall, there has been “considerable misinformation and distortion of the facts at issue,” according to a statement issued by the CSAA in January. That’s why the CSAA is referring the industry to a fact sheet produced by the IAFC to counteract what that group describes as “myths” regarding the proposals. The groups are also urging a national-level discussion on the issue.

The fact sheet, which can be found at www.IAFC.org, says that among the untruths are claims that a proposed change for a 90-second verification delay is dangerous and that the IAFC is “in bed” with the CSAA because the alarm industry will gain from the changes.

But the IAFC says the 90-second validation delay, for which an AHJ can opt out if it determines it cannot accept such a wait, actually would add to the safety of the public and responders if implemented properly.

The group says such a change would be identical to existing alarm codes for residential properties, where the IAFC says the majority of fire deaths actually occur because homes generally don’t have the fire protections found in commercial facilities.

Also, the IAFC says, a 90-second notification delay to avoid sending responders out to chase a false commercial fire alarm is safer.

“Abandoning a response area for such a low statistical probability (that a false alarm is a real emergency) while medical and other fire responses require resources at a higher percentage actually results in lower reliability and longer response times to statistically higher risk and demand events,” the IAFC states.

As for being “in bed” together, the IAFC strongly refutes that claim in its fact sheet.

“The IAFC knows that partnering with industry to create knowledgeable and realistic solutions benefits the fire and emergency service,” the group said.

It added: “The goal in our relationship with CSAA is not to build solutions that benefit either them or us, but build a better way of working together for the benefit of the fire and emergency service. Language was carefully crafted to ensure that the proposal offered more flexibility for fire chiefs in determining what is best for their community. There are no requirements in these proposals that would directly benefit central station alarm providers over the fire service.  In fact, the proposals would put additional burden and responsibility on those monitoring and maintaining commercial alarm systems.”

I’ll be talking more to the CSAA about this issue and why it’s so important for the industry, as well as the status of the proposed changes … stay tuned to our web site!