Illinois fire-monitoring bill ignites protest

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02/11/2011

The industry is raising an alarm over a proposed new law introduced this week in the Illinois General Assembly that would allow public fire districts in the state to take control over fire alarm monitoring.

The bill, which the security industry in this state considers a job-killing, monopoly-creating measure because it would allow fire districts to mandate that everyone in the district use the district’s monitoring business, has been pending for a while now. When I wrote about a court case relating to this issue back in December, I noted then that the Illinois Electronic Security Association didn’t like the proposal. Now that HB 1301, entitled the “Fire District Antitrust Exemption,” has been formally introduced, IESA likes it even less. The group is urging Illinois alarm dealers and others involved in the industry to contact their elected representatives in Springfield to tell them how passage of the law could negatively impact their business.

“The primary motivation of the proposed bill is to take over an area of private business that took over a hundred years for private industry to build. It is a revenue booster for fire districts. It does not, however, improve response time or increase firefighter safety. As such, HB 1301 should be rejected,” the IESA said in a statement released yesterday.

Supporters of the bill argue that allowing a district to have complete authority over a wireless radio network or other network within the district is a safer and faster way to do fire monitoring.

But the IESA said that the bill “is not about public safety.” “

It explained that “districts currently have the authority to adopt and enforce rules consistent with the national fire codes (such as the National Fire Protection Association) that provide comprehensive coverage of alarm monitoring (e.g., what technologies are allowed, what is required for alarm monitoring),” the IESA said. “This legislation is designed to allow districts to monopolize alarm monitoring and arbitrarily exclude viable technologies in direct opposition of the national fire codes.”

IESA also said there will an upcoming Legislative Day in the state capitol, the date of which has yet to be set, on which industry members can talk in person with lawmakers about this bill.

I’ll be talking to Kevin Lehan, executive director of IESA, next week to learn more about this issue. Stay tuned.