Standards and Codes: Who's in Charge?
There has been some controversy of late as to who should be developing the codes and stan-dards the security industry lives by. One recent area of controversy is the discussion to create a code for the installation and maintenance of burglar alarms, similar to the NFPA fire code.
“There has been some talk by the NFPA of de-veloping a standard that has something to do with physical security,” says Brad Shipp, execu-tive director, NBFAA. “The scope of the pro-ject, however, is somewhat ambiguous.”
One of the motivating factors to develop stan-dards is the increasing tendency for systems to be integrated and all on one panel. If something happened to one part of the system, then the en-tire system is affected. Even if the systems op-erate on separate panels, they can still affect each other.
“The NFPA is knowledgeable to write stan-dards, but not for burglar alarms,” says Shipp. “Their core mission is fire. Unless they decide to change their mission or to limit their scope, they should leave physical security to the people who have the expertise in that area.”
Not everyone feels this way, however. The Se-curity Industry Association, (SIA) takes a more neutral position.
“SIA’s position is that anything that promotes professionalism in life safety is always a good thing,” says Mark Visbal, manager of technical standards program, SIA. “If we can make peo-ple aware of the fact that they need security and make sure it is done responsibly, it’s a good thing.”
Visbal also points out that developing standards and codes is also good for economics. If there is a universal standard or code for burglar alarms, then it would be easier to conduct business in-ternationally. This creates a plethora of business opportunities for the security dealer/installer.
Visbal also points out that it’s not a matter of trying to tell people how to do their job.
“The NFPA has put together a committee for the purpose of looking into premises security. They simply want to make recommendations as to what level of security should be associated with buildings,” says Visbal.
In any case, it seems that written codes and standards for burglar alarms and physical secu-rity systems are a ways in the future. In the meantime, the powers that be will duke it out to see who’s the right for the job.