Live from the NBFAA Day on Capitol Hill

Members bring fire detection and business legislation proposals to House and Senate


Earlier this week many members of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) invested their own time and resources to make the trip to Washington, D.C. for the NBFAA's annual Day on Capitol Hill, which was Wednesday, April 30, to discuss issues important to the security industry. The approximately 30 NBFAA members in attendance split up based on where they lived to have brief meetings throughout the day with senators, representatives, and/or their staff. These meetings were set up by NBFAA lobbyist John Chwat.

The legislative action items that NBFAA members focused on during the day included:

• Retaining Section 705 of H.R. 4137 in Conference Committee, which would provide matching funds to colleges for life safety and fire equipment enabling both detection and suppression of fires.

• Introduce the "Long Term Care Life Safety Act" in the Senate to go along with Representative Michael Arcuri's version of the bill in the House. (This bill is to authorize the Secretary of Health and Human services to make grant promoting retrofit installation of fire alarm detection systems in nursing homes, hospice facilities, and similar facilities.)

• Have the Senate consider health care choices for small businesses. (By pooling small businesses together nationally, business owners would have more affordable health care options.)

• Federal background check for electronic life safety, security, and systems professionals. (This would entail giving the security industry access to the same FBI database used by schools, law enforcement and others to do background checks.)

• Local Government Video Surveillance Protection Act of 2008. (The bill would be aimed at having counties and cities with populations less than 250,000 to have funds set aside to contract with small business local security installation companies to install video surveillance in high-priority areas such as schools, courts, city-owned property relating to water, utilities, and other infrastructure.)

The NBFAA has seen two bills recently introduced in the House which the association supports. Representative Michael Arcuri (D-NY) has introduced H.R. 2882, "Long Term Care Life Safety Act," in the House of Representatives; and on April 29 Representative Paul C. Broun (R-GA), M.D., introduced "The Electronic Life Safety and Security Systems Federal Background Check Act of 2008" in the House. Both representatives addressed NBFAA members during the association's Day on Capitol Hill.

After being heavily involved in the debate surrounding the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the security industry disengaged quite a bit from lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. However, this trend has begun to change in the past few years with developments including the NBFAA contracting with longtime Washington lobbyist John Chwat to begin re-building its voice in the federal government. This is the second year in a row that NBFAA has had its Day on Capitol Hill.

George Gunning, current NBFAA president, along with Mike Miller, incoming NBFAA president, were both in attendance. Security Dealer & Integrator magazine's very own fire columnist, Greg Kessinger, along with his wife Barbara, were also among the NBFAA members who made the trip to advocate on behalf of the security industry.

The evening before the NBFAA Day on Capitol Hill, members went on a tour of the city's monuments. Also, after the long day of meetings on the Hill, Honeywell hosted the NBFAA for a reception at its Washington, D.C. headquarters with a spectacular view of Capitol Hill. There also was a brief tour detailing the extensive diversity of Honeywell's $37 billion dollar global business.

More coverage
NBFAA Day on Capitol Hill in pictures, on Greg McConnell's blog