Fire services trump alarm industry on NFPA vote

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07/01/2015

On June 25, in Chicago, the NFPA held its annual meeting, but the alarm industry was concerned about two motions on NFPA 72, which would effectively give local municipalities the authority to disallow the use of listed central stations for fire alarm monitoring.

Ultimately, motion 72-8 passed with a vote of 142-80, giving municipalities that discretion. Motion 72-9, which would have removed the line referring to central stations completely, was withdrawn after 72-8 passed.

Kevin Lehan, executive director for the Illinois Electronic Security Associaiton, told Security Systems News that there were some beneficial aspects to the meeting for the alarm industry. “Previously the language said ‘alternate location approved by the authority having jurisdiction.’ Now the language specifically says ‘listed central supervising station.’” Lehan said that this specific mention will help central stations through being now a specific entity as opposed to the previously vague language.

“We were thrilled to be able to get the numbers out that we did.” Lehan said, pointing out that the vote, being on June 25, happened at the same time as ESX. “We mobilized very well, we just have to inform and entice the rest of the alarm installer community to be active in the NFPA going forward.”

“What we learned at this event is that there is a disconnect between the industry and the fire services,” Lehan said. The two sides of the argument, fire departments and the alarm industry were approaching the matter from very different perspectives.

“The fire services, their testimony came across as stating that central stations are unsafe. We have heard for a few years, and this was echoed at that [NFPA] meeting, anecdotal situations whereby the private alarm industry failed in dispatching [without more specific details on the alarm event]. When we ask for specific situations when this has happened, we do not get a response," he said.

“On the private industry side, it’s the same position that we’ve always had, allow us to compete for business. Let UL listed central stations perform to NFPA code standards, and let the market choose service providers,” said Lehan.

Lehan said that the idea of creating a forum for fire services and the alarm industry to communicate better had come up in discussions following the meeting, and that may be further developed in the future, Lehan said. 

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