Orange County (Calif.) Alarm Association Names Officers, Warns of Impending Legislation


The Orange County (Calif.) Alarm Association (OCAA) revealed its new officers at the group’s Jan. 17 meeting at the Phoenix Club in Anaheim, Calif.
New Past President George De Marco of Irvine, Calif.-based Greater Alarm Co. introduced Bev Cramer of Saddleback Security Systems in Lake Forest, Calif., as the association’s new president. Also named to the association’s officer board were: Vice President Wayne Maris of Spectrum Security Systems; Secretary Dave Keays of Central Station Security Systems (CSSS) Inc.; Treasurer Fred Mellenbruch of Smart Alarm; and Sergeant-at-Arms Rudy Ohrt of Millennium Security Services.

Aside from naming its new officers, the main focus of the OCAA meeting was to discuss the California Alarm Association’s (CAA) move to establish a comprehensive training program as a result of two California bills that could harm alarm dealers and technicians.

“There’s a raid on your industry by organized and unorganized labor,” says Arthur Webster, a consultant and lobbyist hired by CAA to review the security industry’s options for creating its own apprenticeship guidelines in the face of California Assembly Bills (AB) 921 and 931.

According to George Gunning of U.S.A. Alarm Systems of Monrovia, Calif., and chair of CAA’s Certification Development Committee, 27 states across the country are facing a similar attack by electrical contractors who are seeking to take over the fire and low-voltage installation industry.

Webster, Gunning and John Corry of Corry Electric Inc. of Montclair, Calif., outlined the core requirements called for in AB921 and AB931. The panel, headed by De Marco, also urged OCAA members to support creating their own program.

Under AB931, effective July 1, a draft of proposed standards states that all licensed electricians, and those working under a licensed electrician, who have completed 4,000 hours of job/formal training register to take the California Journeyman Electrician Exam. Once they pass the exam, these electricians will have to enroll in a state-approved apprenticeship program with standards compiled by the Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS). This also applies to technicians coming from out of state.

By Jan. 1, 2002, electricians will have to pass a written exam with the same type of guidelines within one year. If the electrician does not pass, he or she will receive remedial training followed by a two-year waiting period to retake the exam. During this time, nonlicensed electricians will not be able to run conduit or pull wire, which could affect many alarm businesses.

Also effective July 1, AB921 will set new guidelines and standards for the state’s 60-year-old apprenticeship system, which currently covers more than 56,000 apprentices.
Although the alarm industry realizes its members must comply with the new regulations, the panel warned that, beginning with fire alarm installers, security industry workers could be unduly shoehorned into a “technician” group, which would mean losing the ability to perform the same work as certified electricians. “Technicians can’t pull wire or run conduit,” Gunning says.

However, CAA is hopeful that, in regards to AB921, it can come up with its own state-approved apprenticeship program that will more accurately reflect security installer standards rather than those outside the industry. According to the DAS, the program must be equal to or better than its own suggested standards.

According to Corry, drafts of the proposed apprenticeship standards have not been formally released. When these proposals are made public, there will be a 45-day period for comment, a critical time for industry members to become vocal and write letters and personal testimonies to the DAS. Communicating about possible job losses and the possible threat of a lawsuit by the Fair Licensing and Apprenticeship Coalition (FLAC) will be key, according to the panel.

“We need the wizards from your industry to get involved so this certification program reflects the industry standard,” Corry says. Since the meeting, CAA and the California Automatic Fire Alarm Association (CAFAA) have moved ahead on forming their own version of apprenticeship standards for the industry. While still in the planning process, the groups have completed a survey of members to glean important details about the needs of each company in creating a real and valuable program.

A full update on the progress of the industry fight is due at the May CAA annual meeting in Palm Springs, Calif., according to CAA spokesman Jerry Lenander.

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