Security Watch

New York licensing proposal draws criticism; concerns over fire protection districts getting into the monitoring business

According to MacDonnell, "with regards to liabilities for the conduct of operators the fact that the 'principals' of out of state companies will be held liable for operator's conduct will undoubtedly be a significant problem for owners of companies who are normally shielded from such liabilities by their corporations. I do not think this part of the proposed legislation was well thought out and opens the door to a state starved for revenue."

The ordinance is, however, favorable to alarm companies with regards to false alarms since it mandates fees be paid by subscribers rather than the monitoring company. He added that the organization opened its mid-February meeting to a discussion of the legislation, which MacDonnell will attend on behalf of Rapid Response.

According to Morgan Hertel, vice president and general manager of MACE CS in Anaheim, Calif., adding more bureaucracy is not a panacea. "From a contract monitoring perspective, we operate in numerous states, which results in hundreds of background checks and it's incredibly time consuming and expensive," said Hertel, also a member of the CSAA Contract Monitoring Council, which discussed the legislation's impact recently.

"Our biggest concern is the state won't be able to enforce it and the only people this will affect will be the good guys 'behind the seats' [central station operators]; the bad guys will never get licensed," he said. "Why put rules in place that will be ineffective? Let's take the time and money that would otherwise be used to fight this and do it right at the federal level, with a federal central station employee license," he said. "At the federal level, central station employees would be cleared under the same criteria. Few of the folks on the NYBFAA committee monitor across state lines. Wholesale and brick and mortar companies will fight this tooth and nail," Hertel said.

The Fight of Our Lives
The industry needs to act fast against municipal monitoring
By Natalia Kosk

More than 100 central station owners and representatives, dealers, security distributors and industry professionals gathered late last month to attend the Illinois Electronic Security Association's (IESA) quarterly meeting. Quite a turnout and rightly so, considering the main topic of discussion at the meeting hosted at EMERgency24 headquarters in Des Plaines, Ill.,: fire protection districts getting into the alarm monitoring business.

The main and heated topic of discussion was legislation opposed by the IESA, Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) and the Electronic Security Association (ESA); legislation that fire protection districts are working to pass that would allow them to operate their own central monitoring stations.

"Fire chiefs are in a particularly powerful position to compete against you," explained Nick Bonifas, business development, Alarm Detection Systems, Aurora, Ill.

Chet Donati, IESA president and founder, DMC Security Services, Midlothian, Ill., agreed, addressing the attendees that "competition is good for all of us here" within the alarm industry, but not with the fire districts.

"I'm not saying that the fireman is not your friend-he is," Donati continued. "But neither one of us is going to win against the fire department. Their 'eminent domain' in the name of public safety is going to take our accounts away."

According to Kevin Lehan, executive director, IESA, and public relations manager for EMERgency24, a NFPA 72 technical committee member who worked as a consultant to a Public Safety Answering Point(s) (PSAP) claimed central stations take too long to respond to an alarm-up to 15 minutes. PSAP leaders plan to communicate this to municipal leaders, who will proceed to argue this case alongside a bill IESA believes will be presented by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) in Springfield.

Lehan confirmed that this is false and a clear misrepresentation of information, citing that NFPA 72 requires a maximum of 90 seconds to respond to a signal and transmit that signal to 911 emergency dispatch.

The bill, if passed, would potentially allow municipalities to take subscribers from private monitoring companies.

"The only option we have here is to go to the politicians," explained Patrick Devereaux, senior vice president, EMERgency24. "They may understand it better than anyone else."

Small wins push the battle on