Education as Critical as Sunscreen at Annual CSAA Meeting

CANCUN, Mexico—Perhaps it was the white, sandy beaches or possibly the clear, aquamarine water. Whatever it was, the 2002 Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) Annual Meeting, held Oct. 25-30 at the Cancun Ritz-Carlton, ushered in a new zeitgeist of industry cooperation and solidarity.

More than 200 attendees and presenters expressed a common vision of doing whatever is necessary to ensure the betterment of the electronic security industry, whether from the security, law enforcement, standards, financial or legal communities.

During a panel session involving the heads of each of the major law enforcement associations, it became apparent just how much they value the alarm industry.

“Our missions have changed so much since 9/11 that we are not able to look after property. That’s why you folks are so important. That’s why we have to work so closely with you,” said Sheriff Tommy Ferrell, president of the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA). “We can’t live without the service you provide, especially now that you all are cleaning up some of the false alarm problems.”

On the codes and standards front, recently named UL President and CEO Loring Knoblauch and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) President and CEO James Shannon indicated that, in the wake of 9/11, their organizations are more focused than ever on the electronic security industry.

“We are in a time of change and transition. This is the best time in our [NFPA] history, a time where we can really fulfill our mission of making the world safer,” said Shannon.

Loring screened an amusing and informative video entitled “Are You Alarmed?”, designed to educate city officials and end users about the value of UL standards for the installation, maintenance and monitoring of alarm systems. (For more on UL, see “UL Helps Security Industry Pass the Test”.)

Security Sales & Integration‘s Editor Scott Goldfine gave a well-received presentation providing an advance look at the magazine’s 2002 Dealer Survey. Among the findings was that, although overall the industry was flat during the year, government sector installations increased 25 percent from 2001. (For more on the Dealer Survey, see SSI’s 2003 Buyers’ Guide & Fact Book.) Goldfine also revealed that dealers’ biggest concern today is a lack of training, a sentiment that was recurrent throughout the conference.

During his presentation about the future of fire alarm systems, Hughes Associates Inc.‘s Wayne Moore took it a step further, saying, “The worst thing we have are people thinking that they don’t need the education.” Moore shared some amazing photos of haphazard installations and added, “Maintenance and reliability are the most important steps for reducing false alarms.”

Those curious about the state of the security industry in the event’s host country found the answers in a lively session about the Mexican market. Securitas’ Sergio Gonzales Cortina explained that Mexico remains undeveloped in the realm of electronic security. “However,” he stated, “it is a good opportunity for professional players. We need to educate the market here. It is not easy, but we have already started.”

The conference climaxed with a banquet naming beloved, veteran industry figure Bill Moody as the recipient of the Stanley C. Lott Award. Although Moody was unable to attend, a quartet of his colleagues—Charlie Darsch, Bob Bonifas, Bart Didden and Cecil Hogan—accepted the honor on his behalf.

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