NJBFAA Considers Cutting Ties With NBFAA

Members of the New Jersey Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NJBFAA) will vote Aug. 11 on whether or not to discontinue its affiliation with the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA).

According to the NJBFAA’s President Chris Mack, the decision to potentially secede from the NBFAA has been brewing for a couple of years and involves several factors.

Namely, the NJBFAA has taken issue with what it perceives as inadequate communication by the NBFAA in addressing its concerns, and a lack of action on the International Residential Code (IRC) R-213 issue.

The code has the potential to prevent alarm dealers from installing low voltage smoke detectors in residential security systems and instead move the smoke detector business to high-voltage installation contractors.

The tough economic climate has also prompted members of the NJBFAA to consider opting out of paying dues to the local chapter if the chapter continued to pay national dues required for membership to the NBFAA. Earlier this year, the NJBFAA lowered its membership dues, while NBFAA’s remain unchanged.

“The purpose of this discussion was to ensure that the board thoroughly considered all of the conceivable issues associated with the possible disaffiliation with [NBFAA],” says Mack. “We are not taking this decision lightly.”

According to NBFAA President Mike Miller, there are misperceptions surrounding the issues and concerns voiced by NJBFAA.

“We’re finding there is a lot of things they are not aware of in the background. We want them to know there is more to the story and when that comes out, things won’t look quite so bad,” Millers tells SSI. “Communication is key. We definitely see that as a two-way street.”

Mack says the New Jersey chapter was particularly disappointed with NBFAA’s lack of action on the International Residential Code (IRC) R-213 issue. Despite the adoption of the code, Miller says the NBFAA was heavily involved in the process.

“There were a lot of people involved. By not attending the board of director’s meeting and not populating the committees, [NJBFAA] was not aware of the work that was being done by the standards committee, by the fire committee and through the partnership with AFAA [Automatic Fire Alarm Association].  We also brought in a consultant to work on this program,” Miller says.

Currently each state can amend or accept the IRC R-213 code and determine how it affects smoke detection installations. Enforcement of the code has been strongest in New Jersey. The NJBFAA hired its own independent consultant in hopes of overturning the code, which will undergo a revision in 2010.

“We would want to challenge every state to review the codes being accepted at the national basis by NFPA,” Miller says. “They have a second opportunity to clarify what their stance should be.”

At the end of the day, Miller says he still wants New Jersey to be a chartered member of NBFAA.

“We still want all the members represented together with New Jersey and NBFAA. I’m going to be challenging not just New Jersey but all states. We want them to be sure they have a responsibility as a state to represent their members not just through the board of directors but through the committees as well. That will help them understand the benefits.”

NJBFAA members, including regular and associate members, will vote on the proposed secession at 6 p.m. Aug. 11 at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J. If passed, the split will become effective Dec. 31.

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