The security week that was: 06/17/11 (The fire chief's perspective)

A weekly surveillance of the news shaping your profession


The fire chief's perspective

"Get us the alarms in a timely manner and we will respond quickly."

That was the message that Charlotte Fire Chief Jon Hannan had for the security installing dealer audience while speaking last week at the Electronic Security Expo. I bring this up because there is a lot of discussion in our industry about false alarms and there is a lot of fear around in our industry that the entire public safety community is opposed to alarm signals of any type.

Hannan's point to the audience was the electronic security industry and the public safety community truly can be partners. Of course, Hannan has a particularly unique perspective on the issue. He's been in fire protection working for the fire department since the 1970s, but like a lot of firefighters and police officers early in their careers, he had to moonlight with side jobs. Hannan's moonlighting job was installing security and fire alarm systems, and it's that experience, of having seen the fire and security industry through the eyes of an alarm dealer while also working on the fire response side with the local fire department, that gives him the balance that is often lacking when individuals start talking about false positive signals.

Hannan, joking to the ESX audience, understood the history of the technology. He joked about some of the problems that his employers' systems would create. "I think one night, one of our sites generate 135 false alarms all by itself," said Hannan, who also recognized that sometimes it's the quality of the installation, but other times it had to do with weaknesses in the equipment itself. "In 1981, if there was a very minor earthquake in Uzbekistan, every ultrasonic motion detector in Charlotte went off."

Maybe that's what this industry needs. If you talk to most of the long-timers in the industry, it's clear that a little balance, a little humor, and an absence of antagonism goes a long way in building the relationships that our industry needs. And sometimes we just are lucky to have a chief who knows our industry almost as well as his own.

Cable and telco firms get busy in your space
Security dealers: Expect stronger competition as equipment vendors sling hot technology through cable companies

Security dealers in the home security market are facing increased competition these days from cable and telecommunications firms that want to grab a piece of the pie. Last week, Comcast announced that it will be expanding it Xfinity Home Security service to additional markets throughout the U.S. SD&I Assistant Editor Natalia Kosk recently spoke with Jim Johnson, co-CEO of iControl Networks, whose OpenHome home management software platform is helping power the Comcast security offering. Johnson says that the residential security market is changing with innovations in home automation capabilities and that more and more consumers want increased functionality out of their home security systems. Go here to read the full story.

In other news
Retail theft on the rise, Amtrak increases security, more

Retailers lost more than $37 billion to theft in 2010, according to the preliminary results of the National Retail Security Survey. The majority of losses were attributed to employee theft, followed by organized retail crime. ... Amtrak Chief of Police John O'Connor told a U.S. Senate committee this week that the passenger rail carrier is increasing its security measures to detect and deter terrorists. ... Behavior detection officers at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey are under scrutiny following the discovery of a TSA report which found that the screeners engaged in racial profiling of Hispanics. ... The Electronic Security Association has rolled out a new consumer-focused website that is designed to help consumers learn about security for their homes. ... In a continuing string of high profile cyber attacks, a hacking group known as Lulz Security claimed responsibility for an intrusion of the U.S. Senate's public website.