Senate Bills in Illinois Threaten Return of Alarm Monitoring by Fire Districts

The state’s alarm association tells its members a state senator has proposed two bills that could once again usher in monopolistic fire alarm monitoring by fire districts.

There are legislative efforts afoot in Illinois to reverse a 2012 ruling that protected the state’s central stations from public entities monopolizing fire alarm monitoring.

Kevin Lehan, executive director of the Illinois Electronic Security Association and contributor to SSI‘s “Monitoring Matters” column, alerted IESA members via E-mail on Wednesday (Feb. 25) about a pair of Senate bills that were written to overturn the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District (LWFPD) ruling. As proposed, the bills would create “a new licensure for design, installation, repair, inspection and testing of fire alarm systems,” Lehan wrote.

Some background: The decision against LWFPD ended a contentious legal battle to quash a 2009 ordinance that positioned the district as the lone fire monitoring entity in the area. The LWFPD nullified contracts that ADT and other dealer companies had with their customers, and required all commercial and multiresidential alarm system owners to solely use Keltron transmission devices supplied by the district. Additionally, consumers had to pay a monthly fee of $66 for monitoring services.

Then in 2013, a federal appeals court upheld the ruling in favor of ADT, Alarm Detection Systems (ADS) and three other private alarm companies, stating the LWFPD could not monopolize the fire alarm monitoring market. Time has come to circle the wagons once again. The IESA is coordinating opposition efforts to the proposed bills and asking the state’s security providers to contact their representatives to voice their disapproval.

The bills were proposed by Sen. Thomas Cullerton on Feb. 20 and have been moved to the Assignments committee. Following is the bulk of Lehan’s correspondence to IESA members to explain the proposed legislation:

Synopsis of Senate Bill 1495 as introduced:
Amends the Fire Protection District Act. Provides that the board may adopt ordinances regulating the supervision and monitoring of fire alarm systems maintained within the district. Allows the board to collect reasonable fees for fire alarm services that are provided to customers by the district itself or through a vendor approved by the board. Amends the Private Detective, Private Alarm, Private Security, Fingerprint Vendor, and Locksmith Act of 2004. Exempts from the requirements of the Act a unit of local government or its employee that directly engages in fire alarm supervision and monitoring pursuant to an ordinance adopted under the Fire Protection District Act. Effective immediately.

Synopsis of Senate Bill 1685 as introduced:
Creates the Fire Alarm Service Professional Licensing Act. Provides for the licensure of fire alarm contractors, designers, installers, technicians, and agencies. Authorizes the State Fire Marshal to implement the Act. Includes provisions concerning the powers and duties of the State Fire Marshal, licensing requirements, and designated certified person requirements. Establishes requirements for the installation, repair, inspection, and testing of fire alarm systems. Authorizes the State Fire Marshal to establish fees and continuing education requirements. Sets forth grounds for disciplinary action, criminal and civil penalties for violations of the Act, and administrative procedure. Provides that fines and fees collected under the Act shall be deposited into the Fire Prevention Fund. Makes conforming changes in the Criminal Code of 2012 and the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. Preempts home rule.

Stay tuned for further updates as developments warrant.

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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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