UL Makes Its Mark on Safety

Consumers, Manufacturers Among Those Who Help Set UL Standards
As an independent, not-for-profit organization, UL is in a unique position within the industries it serves. UL’s safety certification services include testing, evaluation and factory surveillance of products to UL’s Standards for Safety, as well as other safety standards. Standards play a significant role in improving public safety. UL uses an open consensus building process to develop effective product safety standards, incorporating input from consumers, manufacturers, governmental agencies, users, regulatory authorities and other interested parties. 

UL Standards Technical Panels (STPs) — groups of individuals representing a variety of interests — are critical to the standards development process. STPs develop and review proposals to revise one of the nearly 1,300 standards developed by the UL family of companies and make it possible for UL to get early input from interested parties. Because of the inclusive nature of the STP process, all parties involved are able to contribute to the development of product safety requirements. Membership on UL STPs is open to all stakeholder groups, subject to committee balance and size restrictions. 

Any individuals interested in serving on one or more UL STPs are encouraged to contact UL directly for further information. UL Standards are used by various audiences, including manufacturers, to design products and systems that meet the requirements for certification; regulatory authorities who reference the standards for products and systems used in their jurisdictions; code development organizations that adopt and reference UL Standards for Safety; and certification organizations that apply UL requirements in their own product evaluations.

Additionally, UL Standards come about based on the work and participation with other industry bodies such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), Security Industry Association (SIA), National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST), etc. The factors that impact UL’s decision to develop a new standard or maintain an existing standard include: 

  • Request for UL product certification in a new area
  • Request by a regulatory authority, government agency or consumer organization based on a previously unidentified need
  • Change in nationally recognized codes
  • Reports from the field pertaining to products currently in use
  • New technology not contemplated by current requirements
  • Harmonization with regional or international standards

UL to Address 4 Issues Impacting Electronic Security Technologies
As the electronic security and fire alarm product industries continue to expand, product solutions begin utilizing new technologies, and regulatory environments become more complex, companies large and small have turned to resources outside of their organizations for assistance. UL plans to address a number of current and future challenges and opportunities that will impact the electronic security and fire signaling technologies.

They include:

1 .Hazardo
us substances regulations
– As some readers may already be aware, the European Union recently implemented a directive restricting the use of six substances in consumer electrical and electronic equipment. These substances are lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl ether and polybrominated diphenyl ether.

Although most electronic security products are classified as monitoring and control equipment and are exempt from the RoHS Directive requirements, many of the components used in electronic security products are not exempt. For example, circuit boards used in a variety of products fall under the jurisdiction of the directive. Accordingly, suppliers have replaced their noncompliant component lines with component offerings that are RoHS compliant.

Whether electronic security and fire products need to be compliant becomes irrelevant when many of the component suppliers have already revamped their products to achieve compliance.

Additionally, other parts of the world such as China and even states such as California have already enacted or are in the process of adopting similar types of legislation. In efforts separate from the RoHS Directive, these locales are defining restrictions on levels of materials deemed hazardous that can be found in varying products. Many electronic security and fire manufacturers have been progressive in working to address compliance in anticipation of future restrictions.

2. Emergence of new technologies – New technologies, specifically in terms of alternative signaling transmission methods, that help address today’s challenges facing the security and life-safety industries are still emerging. So, too, are the standards that help guide the design of products utilizing these technologies. As end users continue to migrate from traditional phone service, their need to have continually functioning alarm systems becomes more challenging.

Product design improvements have provided more flexibility, more choices and more intelligence packaged as a solution. As electronic security product manufacturers continually work to bring end users new solutions, product testing and certification organizations similarly work to update existing standards and develop new ones properly addressing performance and safety for these solutions.

UL is one of the decision-making standards development organizations diligently working to see that tomorrow’s technologies are properly addressed in the requirements of today.

3. Continued key stakeholder involvement – Last year, UL announced plans to simplify the text listings associated with UL’s Marks for security and signaling products. Additionally, new dedicated UL Security and Signaling Marks are being implemented for all UL-certified security and signaling products. Both developments resulted from feedback from customers and key stakeholders.

The new UL Security and Signaling Marks, with the new simplified text listings, will provide users and key stakeholders alike with greater confidence that fire alarm, security alarm and related equipment have been tested, not only for safety, but also evaluated for their ability to perform their intended function. Additionally, these steps provide jurisdictional authorities further clarity regarding the meaning of UL certification Marks on these types of products.

Keeping key stakeholders such as jurisdictional authorities properly educated and informed on the various codes and standards continues to be integral to UL’s public safety mission. Their input as well as input from other stakeholders continues to be important to the advances made in the industry.

 UL staff members spend a tremendous amount of time with jurisdictional authorities to help them properly interpret NFPA 72, the International Fire Code, the International Building Code and other widely used installation codes. Jurisdictional authorities, in turn, are then able to determine the optimum type of fire alarm service for their specific locales.

Conversely, these same UL staff members work with alarm service companies to help them fully understand the needs and requirements established by jurisdictional authorities for a specific locale. At times, there will be a certain amount of confusion within the marketplace as to the alarm services available, the requirements of the codes and the needs of the jurisdictional authority. UL works with all parties to harmonize solutions.

4. Answering the call for the U.S. federal government – The Department of Homeland Security and other U.S. federal agencies have been more active in seeking outside resources to aid in their efforts to not only secure U.S. borders, but also to secure their own facilities and the facilities of their suppliers.

As the federal government has expanded its requirements for the level of alarm service its contractors and subcontractors must have in place, large multilocation alarm service organizations and small independent local operations are realizing greater market opportunities to provide intrusion detection systems to these government contractors.

Certain required elements such as monitoring, investigation of signals, and the actual alarm installation and its components are based on threat assessments performed by the federal government and its Cognition Security Offices (CSO).

As long as an alarm service company – whether large or small – is able to demonstrate its knowledge of these elements through a UL evaluation, the alarm service company can establish a listing enabling it to bid on these types of projects. The flexibility of the delivery of the above elements allows alarm service companies to compete equally.

Additionally, various branches of the government have been active in their pursuit of performance-based standards for threat detection equipment such as chemical, biohazard and explosives detection; security-based surveillance equipment; first responder electronic safety equipment; biometric access controls; etc. UL is working with various organizations to develop standards and provide guidance to establish existing standards will properly address product usage.

UL Wants to Work With Interested Parties, Can Provide More Info

UL plans to continue to work with all parties that have an interest in developing and implementing effective product safety and performance standards for the electronic security and fire industries. If you would like to find out more about UL or its history, people, safety mission or standards developments process, visit www.ul.com.

If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Commercial Integrator + Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add to your bottom line.

A FREE subscription to the top resource for security and integration industry will prove to be invaluable.

Subscribe Today!

Get Our Newsletters