Your livelihood is at stake

Business today means vigilance at the political level

Most of the systems integrators and dealers I know are focused on the day to day activities of running a business. Many are smaller companies, with 1-10 employees and yes, these companies actually make up the majority of the alarm systems installing industry. And busy as you all are, there are things in the industry that deserve your attention and the attention of all your personnel.

Now, there are people who will disagree with me when I say: “Let them in” it comes to competition--because we have to learn to deal with it and it’s what makes us work harder and smarter. So when Comcast, AT&T and Verizon want to come into the market I say: Let them. Here’s the caveat: Let them also abide by the rules and regulations the industry and any existing licensing has painstakingly created in an effort to make our stomping grounds more professional and safer for our subscribers, especially when it comes to home security.

In Michigan, AT&T seems to want to change the rules, or make new ones by the recent proposed legislation (see: In essence, AT&T is trying to say that IP-enabled security systems are different than traditional alarm systems. Swiftly moved through the state Senate, bills 1291 and 1292, the “Internet Protocol-Enabled Premises Security, Monitoring and Control Act” and Amendments to “Private Security Business and Security Alarm Act,” in essence create a separate licensing scheme with a new definition of security as “an IP-enabled security system,” primarily because it communicates using the Internet to send signals. Well, we all know that most security systems are IP-enabled so why this tact?

Here’s what Dean Belisle president of the Burglar and Fire Alarm Association of Michigan (BFAAM) and also president of ACT NOW Alarm Services Inc. in Clinton Township, Mich., shared with me in a letter written on behalf of the organization and the Electronic Security Association (ESA) to state representative Jase Bolger regarding Senate bill 1291 and 1292.

  • “We are greatly concerned that the proponents of this legislation have ignored a state and federal criminal background check requirement, which is contained in the present statute (Private Security Business and Security Alarm Act, Section 338.1052-1092) for the industry. It is simply outrageous that the legislature would consider or pass a bill that would provide merely for a “registrant” of these IP-enabled premises security systems to conduct their own background checks. ESA is presently urging the U.S. Congress to pass a law permitting over 27 states to access the FBI’s Criminal Federal Background Check Database, so as to prevent employees with criminal records to access people’s homes and places of business.
  • The ESA supports the BFAAM in its opposition to this legislation, and the proponents of the bill should instead update the definitions of a security alarm company or system contained in the present statutes, rather than creating a new and burdensome licensing scheme.
  • Senate bill 1291 creates a maze of duplication in permitting thousands of cities and towns across the state of Michigan to pass local ordinances if IP-enabled premises security, monitoring and control services directly notifies emergency dispatch of fire or police department personnel, as well as to discourage false alarm dispatches. It would also require users or owners of protected premises to register, pay fees to local government and other criteria.
  • ESA supports state licensing of life safety and electronic security businesses and we are concerned that the supporters of Senate bill 1291 and 1292 are seeking to circumvent the requirements contained in the Michigan statutes. It is extremely important that employees and companies engaged in providing life safety and electronic security protection adhere to minimum qualifications, such as licensure, certification, training, federal background checks and compliance with other provisions of this statute. To protect citizens’ lives and property from unprofessional or criminal activity, licensing is an important facet of public safety, which we believe legislatures and governments should encourage.”
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