NBFAA Launches Opposition to NFPA Standard for Security
PALM SPRINGS, Calif.
The National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA)
says it is opposing a standard for the installation of
electronic security systems proposed by the National Fire
Protection Association (NFPA). The NFPA will be deciding
whether to adopt NFPA 731 – Standard for the Installation
of Electronic Premise Security Systems – at the June 6-10
NFPA World Safety Conference and Exposition.
Security Sales & Integration has learned that NBFAA
members who are also NFPA members plan to raise an
objection to the standard during the Technical Committee
Report sessions at the expo and ask that the standard,
which has already been in the works for three years, be
sent back to the committee for revision.
NBFAA President Scot Colby says that his association isn’t
opposed to the NFPA setting a standard for the electronic
security industry but wants to make sure they get it
“I agree there’s a need for a standard – just not what this
is,” Colby says. “This has taken some of the UL standards
and duplicated them.”
Colby says the main source of contention with the current
proposal are that current security equipment technology can
comply with many of the provisions, and that much of the
language in NFPA 731 is vague – especially portions
concerning oversight from an authority having jurisdiction
“The majority of the alarm equipment can’t do what they
would require to do. They’re just asking too much of the
equipment,” Colby says. “For example, it mandates that
motion detectors have tamper switches and are approved UL
standard. A majority of manufacturers don’t have this UL
approved for that. This is going to drive the cost of
Shane Clary, of Pacheco, Calif.’s Bay Alarm, is chairman of
the NFPA 731 Technical Committee. Clary spoke before an
audience of dealers, integrators and other industry leaders
at the California Alarm Association’s (CAA) Summer
Convention on May 13 and addressed concerns on the new
standard (TARGET=’_blank’>Click here for a related story on the
convention). Clary says there is little to fear from the
new standard, as he expects AHJs will be slow to pick it
up, giving time for the industry to catch up.
“If law enforcement doesn’t pick up the standard in
ordinances, it’s just a piece of paper. Ninety-nine percent
of police departments don’t know NFPA 731 exists,” Clary
told the CAA gathering. “The standards aren’t retroactive.
It’s just for new systems and revisions.”
The chairman of the NFPA’s Technical Committee on Premises
Security, Wayne Moore, admits that the NFPA, known for its
fire codes and fire system oversight, might seem like an
unorthodox choice to create a standard for electronic
security. However, Moore says the NFPA has brought together
the right experts to make the security codes work.
“In truth, the NFPA is code oriented, but the NFPA does not
have security expertise,” Moore told the CAA attendees. “We
looked for a balanced approach. We’re not just looking for
the fire approach.”
Among those on the NFPA 731 committee were members of the
Security Industry Association (SIA) and Central Station
Alarm Association (CSAA). However, CSAA Executive Vice
President Steve Doyle is quick to note there isn’t any
conflict between his association and the NBFAA just because
some CSAA members helped formulate the proposed standard.
“We had people on committee, but the CSAA has taken no
position,” says Doyle.
Also among those on the committee that helped formulate
NFPA 731 were manufacturers – including representatives
from Simplex/Grinnell – and law enforcement officials that
included Oxnard, Calif., Police Commander Tom Chronister, a
contributor to SSI.
Also to be decided on during the Technical Committee
sessions is NFPA 730 – Guide for Premises Security – which
is similar to NFPA 731 but is being offered as a guide to
describe the best practices to reduce security
The Technical Committee Reports Sessions are scheduled for
June 8 at 2 p.m., June 9 at 8 a.m. and June 10 at 8 a.m.
The NBFAA is encouraging its members who are also part of
the NFPA to vote on NFPA 731 during the sessions. Only NFPA
members can vote, though the session itself is open to the
public. It is unclear when the vote on NFPA 731 will take
place, though Clary forecast it would take place within the
first two days of the sessions.
To see more on NFPA 731 and NFPA 730, including the
complete draft texts, go to HREF=’http://www.nfpa.org/aboutthecodes/’
For a complete look at NFPA 731 by HREF=t_ci_articleView.cfm?aid=2002&sid=6>”Tech Talk”
writer Bob Dolph in June’s issue of Security Sales &
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