California Alarm Association (CAA) Summer Convention: May 16-18, Palm Springs, Calif.

About 150 members, exhibitors and other industry professionals congregated in the sweltering Palm Springs, Calif., desert at the Hilton Resort for the annual California Alarm Association (CAA) Summer Convention. On the business side, the proceedings were highlighted by a special session on the Western Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (WBFAA) Unilateral Apprenticeship and Training Program, supplier exhibits, the CAA General Session, a full slate of presentations, and another installment of “Industry Incorrect.” On the social side, there were the opening reception, a poolside reception and dinner, and the CAA Golf Tournament. In addition, special presentations included the Mark Schubert Award and the CAA Youth Scholarship Program.

More than two years in the making and sponsored jointly by the CAA and the California Automatic Fire Alarm Association (CAFAA), the Apprenticeship Program for certifying the occupation of a Fire/Life Safety Technician (anyone connecting electrical devices of 100V or more) is on the verge of receiving final approval. A detailed report explaining the program—which is expected to be implemented by 2005—was distributed during the convention. It is hoped that the ambitious program, which requires 6,000 hours of on-the-job training as well as approximately 525 hours of coursework, will be used as a template and widely adopted across the country. “I believe that once this program gets going, it will be tremendous for our industry. It will offer young people a legitimate career path,” said WBFAA President George Gunning. For more information on this program, call (626) 256-6055.

During the General Session, Les Gold, CAA legal counsel, talked about a recent rise in cities considering verified response. He warned that Shanna Werner of the Salt Lake City Police Department is pushing that city’s no-response policy to other municipalities, such as Los Angeles. Consequently, cities such as L.A. are demanding a physical verification to alarms. “The best thing we can do as an industry is to work with your local police departments and keep up with what they are doing,” urged Gold. Meanwhile, CAA Treasurer John Sargent reported that he spearheaded a meeting with officials in San Francisco to put a damper on that city’s plans to institute a no-response policy.

Also during the General Session, CAA Immediate Past President Tony Smith talked about the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s (NBFAA) new Reassuring America Campaign and showed attendees the associated materials. “It’s a complete marketing kit. Instead of costing $20,000 to $30,000 to put together a comprehensive and professional campaign, this costs NBFAA members just $149,” said Smith. He also vouched for the value of NBFAA membership, which costs $500 to join but includes a New Membership Kit containing $1,000 in coupons.

The seminars were kicked off by Security Sales & Integration Editor Scott Goldfine‘s “Making Trade Magazines Work for You,” which spelled out the valuable yet free information and services the publication offers dealers/integrators, the myriad of avenues for getting into the magazine, its associated outlets and projects, and how easy and important it is to get involved. Goldfine especially urged attendees to participate in the Sales and Marketing (SAMMY) Awards, which has a deadline this year of July 1, and the new online LeadTracker(SM) service ( Other notable speakers included Security Industry Association (SIA) Executive Director Richard Chace (“What Manufacturers Do to Grow the Industry”) and ProFinance Associates President Michael Jones (“A Financial Outlook: National Trends, Local Impact”).

As usual, the CAA Summer Convention was well organized, well attended, offered worthwhile information and ample networking opportunities, and featured tasty cuisine. Also, as usual, many attendees were lured away to bask poolside in 90-plus-degree sunshine or partake in a round of golf at one of the resort community’s many excellent courses. One thing that was missing from some of the past conventions was a notable keynote speaker. It would be nice to see that return next year. The CAA Winter Convention is set for Dec. 5-7 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in San Francisco. For more information, call (800) 437-7658.

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