Bevy of Benefits Make Security Trade Associations More Attractive

Learn why installing security contractors should consider joining security trade associations.

On multiple occasions I’ve discussed the work that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and International Code Council (ICC) do within the code and standards promulgation arena. Installing security contractors who provide fire detection and life-safety systems can become a member of both of these organizations, though only as a non-voting member in the ICC.

Beyond those groups, let’s take a look at four more trade organizations that as a fire/life-safety solutions provider you should consider joining. Several of these organizations cover additional areas such as intrusion detection systems, sound systems and central station supervision.

Training Initiatives a Major Aspect of AFAA Agenda

The Automatic Fire Alarm Association (AFAA) is dedicated exclusively to the fire alarm industry. AFAA consists of members from manufacturing, installation, authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) and fire protection engineering firms. The organization has 19 regional and state member associations that represent 28 states plus Washington, D.C.

At the national level, AFAA’s primary focus includes active participation in code promulgation through both NFPA and ICC. Currently AFAA has 34 individuals on 37 separate NFPA technical committees. In this regard, AFAA is very involved with all aspects of the codes and standards that are related to automatic fire alarms. 

For a number of years, AFAA has also been involved in training programs for the fire alarm industry. These include trainings in a traditional classroom environment, Webinars and online classes and seminars. The association also holds an annual meeting in which several presentations are delivered on various aspects of fire alarm design, codes and standards.

A number of the classroom courses go toward National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) Fire Alarm Certification. AFAA was instrumental in the development of the NICET Fire Alarm Certification program in 1988 and remains a strong proponent of certification to this day. To this end, the AFAA board of directors recently approved work to begin the development of a new certification for testing and inspection personnel. AFAA plans to have this certification ready for public release in 2016.

At the regional level, the member associations are involved in local code and standard promulgation, working with local AHJs and training. Joining AFAA goes through a member association if the prospective member is located within one of the applicable 28 states (and D.C.). For those states that do not have a member association, a firm or individual joining AFAA would become a direct member to AFAA national.

CSAA Impact Includes Central Station Standards Development

The Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) was originally a part of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA). CSAA is principally for those firms that operate a listed central station. CSAA has representation on NFPA 72, on both the Correlating and Signaling Service Committees as well as membership on various other technical committees. The work that CSAA performs on these technical committees focuses on the transmission and handling of signals from the protected premises to the central station.

CSAA is also an accredited standards developer through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which has developed and released a number of standards related to the central station sector. One related to the fire alarm industry is ANSI/CSAA CS-CO-01-2008, Carbon Monoxide Response Standard. This is viewed as a supplement to NFPA 720, Standard for the Installation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection and Warning Equipment.

CSAA also maintains close relationships with many AHJ national associations, including the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM). Members of the CSAA board and committees attend the meetings of these two organizations. At its annual meeting CSAA welcomes the leadership of the various AHJ associations and holds roundtable discussions on issues and concerns of mutual interest, including for the past several years the hot-button subject of unwanted alarms from fire alarm systems.

For central station operators, CSAA offers an online training and certification program. The course, offered in two levels, covers a multitude of duties such as the handling of signals from a fire alarm system. In addition to online courses, CSAA provides members on-demand Webinars that address central station practices and industry issues. Additionally, CSAA conducts an annual Operations Management Seminar.

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About the Author


Shane Clary, Ph.D., is Security Sales & Integration’s “Fire Side Chat” columnist. He has more than 37 years of security and fire alarm industry experience. He serves on a number of NFPA technical committees, and is vice president of Codes and Standards Compliance for Pancheco, Calif.-based Bay Alarm Co.

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