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Burg Installation Standards Are a Good Idea

It’s often said that an ingenious idea is “ahead of its time.” That may be the case for the recent calls for the creation of burglar alarm installation standards.

For the second time in the past few years, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has announced plans to examine the creation of installation standards for “premises security.” The reaction to NFPA from the alarm industry associations has been swift ... don’t do it.

The National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA), Security Industry Association (SIA) and Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) are denouncing the NFPA plan. Why? There are several reasons. The most important being that a fire association is probably not the best organization to be formulating burglar alarm standards.

Second, the industry is skeptical of NFPA’s intentions. Many pundits believe a key reason behind NFPA’s plan is to eventually create codes that can be adopted state by state. Those adoptions would garner the association more power and revenue. NFPA, of course, already wields tremendous power and prestige nationally because of its National Fire Alarm Code(r). Meanwhile, adding fuel to the argument that NFPA is moving beyond its area of expertise, the organization also unveiled plans to develop the NFPA Building Code(tm) by 2002. This code would create a full set of codes and standards for all edifices nationally.

I agree with NBFAA, SIA and CSAA that the creation of burglar alarm standards should be left to the existing security industry associations; however, I agree with NFPA that there is a void in this area.

Currently, the range of installation expertise among the dealer base is huge. The industry needs installation standards ASAP to render some sort of quality control on how systems are constructed. Many jobs are haphazardly “thrown in” without any regard to quality. Many dealers know that the likelihood an alarm system, especially a residential one, will ever be activated in an actual intrusion is remote.

It makes sense for NFPA to recognize this gap and move to create new standards. I applaud the idea ... that’s why both NBFAA and SIA have already made moves to apply for certification as writers of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards. The idea is not ahead of its time; it’s a good one. It just needs a different messenger.

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