How NBFAA Can Win the Name Game

What do the following associations have in common: National Propane Gas Association; National Peanut Association; American Concrete Pumping Association; American Truck Stop Operators Association; and National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association? Stumped? The answer is they all have a moniker that makes it easy to tell who and what they represent.

I bring this to your attention this month because there is a movement afoot for the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) to undergo a name change. When I first heard about this, I wasn’t too keen on the notion of ditching an established 58-year-old brand name. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized times have changed and maybe it was a viable idea.

After all, when NBFAA was formed, technologies like access control, CCTV and biometrics did not yet exist, as they really didn’t become popular until the early 1980s. I believe it makes sense for the largest installing dealer association to have a name that is inclusive and descriptive of all the technologies and services currently provided by its members.

However, the name being seriously considered as a replacement for NBFAA is the “Electronic Life Safety and Systems Association (ELSSA).” I ran this name by a few people outside of our industry and asked them to quickly tell me what they thought it represented. Some of the guesses included: mine safety appliances and equipment; emergency medical equipment for firefighters and paramedics; and operating-room electronic life-sustaining medical equipment.

There could be a problem here as a trade association’s name should be instantly and accurately identifiable to the general public. Does the proposed new name really and truly represent our industry as a whole, especially the term “life safety”? Let’s analyze this for a moment.

In my opinion, much of what we do has primarily nothing to do directly with saving a life. For example, if you’re installing access control biometric readers on computer room doors, are you installing these to save someone’s life? What about the CCTV camera at the warehouse door? Is this the primary reason you sold the system to the client? No! It’s installed to prevent intellectual and physical property from being stolen or sabotaged by an unauthorized person.

We install electronic security prevention and detection equipment to lessen the likelihood of potential catastrophes, such as theft/destruction of property and/or violent crime against another person. Alarm sirens and voice and visual notification appliances are designed to alert people that something is wrong, scare away intruders and possibly evacuate the premises, depending on the type of system.

To me, “life safety” is an industry insider buzz term purely associated with burglar and fire alarm systems — not CCTV, access control, biometrics, IT/network security, etc. NBFAA’s proposed new name will not accomplish the intended mission of accurately representing members nor will it attract those associated with these large and growing segments of the electronic security industry.

Thus, I believe the NBFAA moniker should remain, or a better alternative name should be selected. Here’s my suggestion: Change the name to either the National Electronic Security Contractors Association (NESCA) or International Electronic Security Contractors Association (IESCA). These names will garner instant recognition from the public at large and encompass all segments of our industry.

We are installing contractors. The public instantly recognizes terms such as electrical contractors; plumbing contractors; building contractors; etc. The word “contractor” symbolizes those who install. The term “electronic security” represents protection (which won’t be confused with security guards, stocks and bonds, etc.) Simply put, we are electronic security contractors. Also, let’s get rid of the word “dealer” once and for all. The only other people who use that term are car dealers, card dealers and drug dealers! That’s my 2 cents worth. If you have a better idea, I would love to hear about it! (Note: At press time, NBFAA’s proposed name change was sent out to the general membership for a vote. The results are due by the end of March.)

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