Security Dealers vs. Electricians; WBFAA Program Combats Bill

LAS VEGAS

While most attendees of the International Security Conference and Exposition (ISC) West were being enraptured by the fanciful assortment of new products on the show floor, a few dozen or so dedicated colleagues were holed up in meetings to discuss some major concerns facing the industry.
One of the most pressing matters was the legislative war being waged on the security industry by electricians.

To hammer the point home, George Gunning, president of the Western Burglar Fire Alarm Association (WBFAA) – a group recently established by the California Alarm Association (CAA) and the California Automatic Fire Alarm Association (CAFAA) – opened up the “WBFAA Apprenticeship Training” meeting by holding up electrician trade publications featuring recent security-related cover stories.

The apprenticeship session addressed imminent legislation, propagated by electrician organizations, such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, that requires all persons working in the fire and integrated systems industry be subject to certification and an apprenticeship program.

Similar measures are either in place or in the works across the United States. In the case of California, the security industry was blindsided by the bill (AB 921 and AB 931), which is scheduled to become law in July. The original legislation that surfaced in 1998 appeared harmless to the alarm industry. By the time CAA and CAFAA caught wind of late changes to the scope of the bill, it would have cost $500,000 to fight it.

With hopes of defeating the bill dashed, WBFAA has turned its focus toward establishing a fire/life safety certification apprenticeship program to ensure that California security companies groom future installers and technicians so they will be able to pass the soon-to-be-state-mandated testing.

As WBFAA moves forward, the major concerns are funding and support for the proposed three-year program.

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